Tag Archives: technology

Windows XP’s Last Day (Sort Of)

In case you haven’t been paying attention, and really, most people don’t to tech news, today is the last day that Microsoft will support Windows XP.   What does that mean?

It means that there will be no more official security updates and bug fixes for the operating system from Microsoft.

Which is going to hit a lot of people, since figures are that up to 30% of Microsoft’s “installed base” (people using their operating systems) are still using XP.  Last year during the Healthcare.gov roll-out, more than a few conservatives and media figures latched onto the notion that some of it was based on “10 year-old technology,” with the implied – or outright said – assertion that private business would never be caught using “obsolete technology.”  Of course, that bears little relation to reality.

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The Other Snowden Scandal

Many years ago, I was required to have a security clearance.  As it later turned out, a much higher one than I actually needed, but at the time, the “guidelines” said that if I had a certain rank and was assigned to a certain post, I had to have it.   So I sat down, and filled out a lot of paperwork.   A complete life history, detailing where I’d lived during my life up to that point, what schools I’d attended, and a lot of other  questions.  I sent off transcript requests to my colleges, to have them send in transcripts to the agency in charge of the clearance.  Then there were credit checks, criminal record checks,  and the interviews which were … intensive.  After that, came the reports from my family as various people called them to ask if I was “in trouble,” because they’d just been questioned about me by the FBI or by military investigators.

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It Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

One of the “causes” which has been running around the frustrati blogs for a while is the Manning case.  He painted as a “hero” and a “whistleblower” by them.   That his “whistleblowing” was not so much a principled decision to expose wrongdoing, as it was a screwed-up idiot who decided to “get even” by doing an unfiltered dump of classified documents, gets glossed over or waved aside.   More recently there is the Snowden case, where the  initial revelations of a massive government spying operation on its own citizens turned out to be … not quite all that.

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Glenn Greenwald’s Fish Tale

Over the past few days, there’s been a major burst of outrage regarding the “NSA leaks” from a young tech named Edward Snowden, as published in The Guardian by Glenn Greenwald.  The claims were that the NSA is monitoring every American, and that there’s a “secret” program called PRISM which enabled Snowden (among others) to wiretap into anyone’s communications.  Along with that, that the government had “direct access” to all the major internet services servers.  Aside from the fact that it was Greenwald publishing it, there were a number of things that Snowden and Greenwald were claiming that made me smell a distinct odor of fish.

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Forward To The Future?

Back in the ’70′s, I took a college course in cell biology.  That was about how cells were organized, how they metabolized nutrients, etc.  At the time, it was known as the field in biology that was “pure research,” that is, if you were working in it, you were doing research for the sake of doing research.  More properly known as “basic research,” it was seeking to answer the questions about “what makes cells work.”  What could you do with it?  No idea.  Which is why it drew a lot of negative press and attention from various conservatives when they wanted to make a point about “wasteful government spending.”    “Why should the government be spending money for someone to do something esoteric that had no practical purpose?” they asked.

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