Category Archives: Sufficiently Advanced Technology

I’d Rather Own the Book

Every now and then I start to think it could be fun and even useful to buy a Kindle. Then I read stuff like Amazon remotely wipes woman’s Kindle, and come to my senses.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 1 Comment

Extreme Alert! (False Alarm) Shows Flaws in the System

So there I am at my computer, trying with some difficulty to set up two-factor authorization for my gmail account (the sticking point seems to be what I have to do to get it to work on my phone), when all of a sudden the phone makes a horrible loud noise, and a big scary popup appears warning me about an EXTREME ALERT.

Tornado Warning in this area til 10:15 PM EDT. Take shelter now. Check local media – NWS

Sounds serious. Even though it’s not even raining out at the moment. Tapping it, then asking for “more information” is not much more informative.

CMAE category: Met
Response type: Shelter
Severity: Extreme
Urgency: Immediate
Certainty: Observed

So naturally, not having a basement to hide in (this is South Florida, there are no basements) I turn to Google, searching for tornado and Miami-Dade, but I don’t find much at first. Eventually I get to a page at, of all places, the College of Dupage, which says it is located at 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, and has has the text of an announcement from the National Weather Service, one for which I only later find the official site.

And it turns out that the tornado watch is real, but for areas well north of me:

TORNADO WARNING
FLC011-086-270215-
/O.NEW.KMFL.TO.W.0038.120827T0149Z-120827T0215Z/

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
949 PM EDT SUN AUG 26 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIAMI HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTH CENTRAL BROWARD COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA…
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF…PEMBROKE PINES…MIRAMAR…
NORTHEASTERN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA…
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF HIALEAH…

* UNTIL 1015 PM EDT

* AT 947 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR OPA-LOCKA…MOVING
NORTHWEST AT 45 MPH. %%

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR…
MIAMI LAKES…
MIAMI GARDENS…
MIRAMAR…
INTERSECTION U.S. 27 PINES BLVD…
WESTON…
AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

SEEK SHELTER INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING ON THE LOWEST FLOOR…AWAY FROM
EXTERIOR WALLS AND WINDOWS. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF
STURDY FURNITURE. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY.

TAKE COVER NOW IN A STURDY REINFORCED BUILDING. TORNADOES ARE
ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS AT NIGHT BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD TO SEE. IF YOU
WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE OR HEAR IT COMING…IT MAY BE TOO LATE TO GET TO A
SAFE PLACE! MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM OR HALLWAY ON THE LOWEST FLOOR.
LEAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES FOR REINFORCED SHELTER. STAY AWAY
FROM WINDOWS.

REPORT SEVERE WEATHER OR DAMAGE TO THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
OR YOUR COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. THEY WILL RELAY YOUR REPORT TO
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE IN MIAMI.

&&

LAT…LON 2599 8055 2612 8039 2590 8018 2581 8027
TIME…MOT…LOC 0148Z 136DEG 40KT 2588 8027

$$

BAXTER

I think this reveals two real flaws in the emergency warning system that is being pushed on to our phones (without opt-in by the way). First, if the alert-generating system can identify me by location as someone in the general area of the warning, why can’t it be more fine-grained and figure out that I’m actually several miles away from it? Second, I absolutely don’t see why the alert couldn’t have a hyperlink to the more detailed statement. Some day this is going to start a lot of unnecessary panic.

Posted in Miami, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments

Creating Miami’s Future as a Technology Center

If anyone can pull of the trick of turning Miami into a communications technology center, it’s probably Manny Medina (and the smart people on his team).

Thus, this excerpt from his profile in today’s Herald is the sign of something that could be A Very Big Deal:

Q: You’re working with local leaders to initiate a not-for-profit Tech Conference of the Americas in Miami. When will it happen? Can you tell us what you’ve got in mind? How do you think it will help the region?

As I attended technology conferences in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, etc., I was always amazed how any one of them would attract from 100,000 to 250,000 participants. Some conferences actually transform the entire city.

I began to ask why we couldn’t do this in South Florida. The answer was always that we could not compete with Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, etc. My view is that we do not need to compete, we need to use our number one asset — that we are the undisputed capital of Latin America for everything except technology. Therefore, why not launch a Tech Conference in South Florida to serve as the technology bridge between Latin America and the rest of the world?

Circumstances today create the perfect storm for us to do this. The economic meltdown in Europe and the slowdown in North America are making Latin America substantially more attractive for technology companies. At the same time, Latin American enterprises and governments have an insatiable appetite for the transfer of this new technology.

The conference has to have three main attributes: It needs to be substantive. In other words, tackle real issues facing the industry today like cloud computing, cyber security, big data, analytics, etc.; it needs to be a great networking event; and lastly, it must be fun. I could not think of a better venue than South Florida.

If we think of Art Basel’s impact in our community, I am convinced that making South Florida the Tech Capital of Latin America could have as big if not a bigger impact. The idea has been overwhelmingly embraced by local leaders. We have already secured a few hundred thousand dollars of funding. The goal is to have the first annual conference in the Spring of 2014. Over the next few months, we will be reaching out to the broader community to invite everybody to join us and help make this annual conference a major success for our community.

I hear that the conference has reserved space for 2014.

Posted in Miami, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Gregory Koger Tries to Head Off the Death Star Construction Program

U Miami Political Science Professor Gregory Koger knows how to get way ahead of the curve, and has published a comprehensive treatment of what will someday be a major political issue — Should we build a Death Star?:

I wish to address the most important policy question of the millenium: should we build a Death Star?  This debate picked up this year after some Lehigh University students estimated that just the steel for a Death Star would cost $852 quadrillion, or 13,000 times the current GDP of the Earth. Kevin Drum suggests this cost estimate is too low but, in the context of a galactic economy, a Death Star is perfectly affordable and “totally worth it.” Seth Masket and Jamelle Bouie highlight the military downside of the Death Star, suggesting that more people might rebel against the wholesale genocide of the Empire, and that the Death Star would be the prime target of any rebellion. I have two thoughts to add. First, the Death Star is a bit misunderstood. It is primarily a tool of domestic politics rather than warfare, and should be compared to alternative means of suppressing the population of a galaxy. Second, as a weapon of war, it should be compared to alternative uses of scarce defense resources. Understood properly, the Death Star is not worth it.

And there’s lots more where that came from.

I look forward to subsequent articles about the costs, benefits, and ethical ramifications of building a time machine, a Stargate, and a transporter.

Posted in Econ & Money, National Security, Sufficiently Advanced Technology, U.Miami | 2 Comments

At Cardozo’s “Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age”

I’m in New York for Cardozo Law’s Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age, speaking on the war on online anonymity.

It’s a great program, and I’m on the first panel so then I get to relax and enjoy the event.

Travelling here yesterday I learned two things: First that putting your boarding pass on your electronic device instead of a phone is not a smart move. The person in front of me at the TSA line was not able to have his boarding pass on his iPad read by the TSA screener’s machine. And at the gate, the person in front of me in the boarding queue was not able to have her boarding pass on her smart phone read by the gate agent’s scanner.

Second thing I learned, from the French person sitting next to me on the plane, is that a lot of French people with money are investing in Belgium (!) as a form of tax evasion. Apparently, if you buy an asset there you don’t have to pay tax on the appreciation if you hold it 5-7 years. Thus, among other things, there’s a property boom going on with appreciations of as much as 5% per year. (Bubble, anyone?) It wasn’t clear to me if this was legal tax avoidance, or a classic French fiddle, but my interlocutor seemed to think there was an awful lot of it going on.

Incidentally, last night I saw Venus in Fur. Highly recommended. It has three Tony Award nominations. The play is clever — arch at points, but fun and brainy at the same time — and I think that Nina Arianda in particular has to be a very strong contender for her spectacular performance.

Posted in Econ & Money, Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

Securing Gmail (Updated)

Coding Horror, Make Your Email Hacker Proof has lots of good advice about how to secure your Gmail account.

This is all good advice, even if two-factor authentication is not a panacea.

Plus, when you print out that last-ditch backup paper to put in your wallet…don’t label it. Why make it easy for the guy who steals your wallet?

Update: A friend writes,

I followed the instructions, first on the desktop.

Then, it locked out my Gmail account on my iPhone, because I need to do one more step since smartphones “apps” cannot ask for verification, only a password.

(That part is missing in this “Coding Error – Make your Email Hacker Proof” article because it is only for the desktop. If you use Gmail also on your mobile device, you need to do the below):

So I read further and found that you need to the 2 step authoriztion by following these steps (watch the video).

This gives you a long “application specific password” which is different from your password you use when you login to Gmail from a browser on a desktop (not your mobile device). You only need to type it in once.

Now my Gmail works on my iPhone. Terrific!

Posted in Internet, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Dear Verizon Wireless

There was nothing in the documentation to suggest that 4000 or so Google contacts and 196 apps (including all the cruft you pre-loaded on my phone and I cannot remove), would bork the Droid Incredible 2.

Anyway, I don’t have 4000 contacts. The phone, or the phone-Google connection, seems to have systematically put in multiple entries for the ones I do have due to some weird effect of matching contacts.

And most of the apps are very small.

Oh, and did I mention that the DINC2 startup screen (pictured) always makes me think of the Eye of Sauron?

Posted in Android, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments