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Amazon EC2 Outage: What The Experts Tell Us

April 27, 2011

The recent Amazon outage of its EC2 service affected a number of leading-edge companies who in some cases used the fact that they housed little to no infrastructure on their premise as a selling point to investors. Certainly, the cloud computing market is in what we could call a post-evangelism phase where there seems to be universal agreement that the cloud has a role in most organizations – at least to help with some tasks – if not all. We know the concept of hosted solutions isn’t new – many companies outsource payroll for example or tax preparation.

But certainly, when the largest company providing cloud infrastructure has a major outage of one of its availability zones lasting days,  it’s time to sit back and reflect on the challenges of moving wholesale to the cloud without thinking the concept fully through.

Apple Responds to Locationgate

April 27, 2011

With the controversy surrounding the data being gathered by smartphones with Apple and Google operating systems, Apple has decided to come out with an explanation of what exactly it is doing and why. Here are the salient points of what they call a location Q&A:

  • Apple says it does not track the location of your iPhone, and it never has or will do so.
  • The reason this has become an issue is companies such as Apple haven’t done a good job explaining the complex technical issues at work.
  • Apple is maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots generated by tens of millions of devices sending encrypted information regarding the location of hotspots so as to be able to provide accurate location information when GPS satellite tracking information is not available. It cites usage in a basement as an example of why it needs to do this.
  • This crowd-sourced database is too large to fit in an iPhone but a subset of it is stored on iPhones and can be encrypted or not – based on user settings in iTunes. Researchers were confused by this data which was being backed up onto local PCs – but Apple plans on updating its software soon and at this point it will stop backing up this information.
  • Apple cannot locate a user based on its geo-tagged WiFi information.
  • Apple has been storing up to a year’s worth of location data and the company says this is a bug and going forward they will only store seven-days’ worth of location information.
  • Another bug according to Apple is the device continued to update WiFi and cell tower data from the crowd-sourced database even if location data was turned off.
  • Apple is collecting crowd-sourced traffic data in order to provide accurate traffic data for its users.
  • Apple provides anonymous crash data to third-party developers and the company’s iAds platform allows anonymous geotargeting of ads but requires user approval before sharing location data with an advertiser.

Super WiFi Hotspot Gives 3 Mile Range

April 19, 2011

One of the absolutely most disruptive technologies I have seen is Super WiFi and although, until now, the technology has been more theory than practice, there is a grandmother in Texas named Leticia Aguirre who has lit up a hotspot in her house with a range of three square miles – an absolutely staggering distance. Utilizing dynamic spectrum access the network shifts automatically between WiFi and a dormant digital UHF TV channel to provide the ideal coverage characteristics.

Organizations involved in this trial are Rice University, Houston nonprofit Technology for All (TFA) and the NSF who provided a grant to incorporate super WiFi into the network.

Coincidentally, this September will see the second occurrence of the world’s only Super WiFi Summit which will be cohosted by TMC where I am CEO and Crossfire Media where Carl Ford is a founding partner.

Which Kills More Jobs - The iPad or US Politicians?

April 18, 2011

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. recently went on a rant discussing how the iPad is produced in China and is responsible for killing jobs and is responsible for Borders going bankrupt. He continued to rail against universities who have adopted the iPad instead of text books. He went on to wonder what happens to publishing company and librarian jobs in such an environment.

The question on our minds must be why is the iPad the focus of his concern and not the digital camera which caused Kodak to go into a tailspin and local photo shops around the country to close down? Why not target IBM for inventing the mainframe and making it possible to use vacuum tubes and later microprocessors instead of humans using pencil and paper.

President Obama Needs to be at ITEXPO

April 15, 2011

I recently learned that President Obama isn't happy with the old White House telephone. According to Fox News he said:

The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff," he said during a small fundraising event at a Chicago restaurant. "I'm like, c'mon guys, I'm the president of the United States. Where's the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up?



Is Android Security Really an Issue?

April 15, 2011

Yesterday I showcased an interview with investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners but what I didn't mention was the following comment he made, "I don't trust Android because some 16-year-old kid in the Eastern Bloc presses a button and erases everyone's hard drive."

McNamee also made a call to short Google as a pairs trade with buying Apple the day before the stock of the search leader dropped almost $50 or 8% after missing their earnings number.


But just as interesting is another big piece of news which has to do with Skype responding to an Android vulnerability which has to do with unencrypted SQLite information on the device which can be accessed by malicious software. Of course the challenge is - what software is malicious - it certainly isn't advertised as stealing data in its description in app stores. Moreover, in this case, the issue seems to be Skype not setting file permissions appropriately to avoid data from being hijacked.

Of course when I read about the controversy I thought of the comments about the 16-year-old kid.

And at a time when Android is so popular - in fact in South Korea there is an antitrust complaint against the company - one wonders, what happens if McNamee is right and the platform isn't so secure?

But then again, any platform with a degree of openness and massive adoption is a major target of hackers and if our experience with Microsoft products is a solid guide, we can expect more Android vulnerabilities to surface and potentially frequent patches to be released to counteract them.












Voice Carrier Wants a Big Piece of the SMB VoIP Pie

April 14, 2011

The business VoIP market has a tremendous amount of growth potential based on a recent FCC report I highlighted last week. And perhaps the most exciting aspect of the market is there is no single leading player which comes to mind – especially for the SMB. And losing and gaining marketshare in the segment can be done quite rapidly if you aren’t careful. Case in point are Comdial and Inter-Tel: two major players in the SMB CPE space just a decade-and-a-half ago.

HTML5 to Allow 15-year Post Internet Boom Mega-Cycle

April 14, 2011

Investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners was interviewed on CNBC this morning and explained why he is bullish on the tech sector. He goes on to say Apple is winning and tell us why. He continues by saying companies are trading down from Windows to tablets and saving thousands per year on support. This will free up $100B worth of revenue per year in this category.


Moreover, there is a titanic clash for Internet control - will it be app stores or HTML5?


Photobucket Outage

April 13, 2011

Updated 4/14/2011, 4/15/2011 and 4/19/2011 - see below.

Originally posted 4/13/2011

Apparently my Photobucket account is one of the ones unavailable due to maintenance. I have come to rely on this cloud-based photo sharing service more and more as it works on iOS and the Sony Dash. There is an Android app as well which I have found doesn't display photos as well as it does on other operating systems. Here is the message the company gives when I try to login via the web.



Update 4/14/2011: Its been more than 24 hours and the site is still out. This is without a doubt one of the challenges of moving to the cloud - but that doesn't mean as a customer of a free service I feel I have such a strong right to complain.

Jim Goss, the company's VP of Operations expressed his apologies (see below) for the site being inaccessible via the Sony Dash, the web and iOS - I've tried all three.









Regulatory 2.0 Video Feed is Live

April 12, 2011

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