What’s Your Threat Score? Green, Yellow or Red?

Crunching all the database information in a matter of seconds, the Beware algorithm then assigns a score and “threat rating” to a person — green, yellow or red. It sends that rating to a requesting officer.

For example, working off a home address, Beware can send an officer basic information about who lives there, their cell phone numbers, whether they have past convictions and the cars registered to the address. Police have had access to this information before, but Beware makes it available immediately.” – Reuters

George Orwell was just 30 years off. I’ve assumed this for years, but now we all know that the government is actively monitoring everyone for pre crime profiling.

What bothers me (second) most about this domestic surveillance is that it’s ineffective for catching the smartest criminals. Those folks have probably also assumed that this technology has been available for some time; so they’ve already learned to hide their activities and only publish ‘green’ behavior online – masking their real intentions.

Law abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment rights (or just spewing their opinion) are the folks that would trigger a system like this and be labeled ‘red’.

So while law enforcement focuses on the ‘red’ loud mouths, the truly dangerous people are free to carry out their evil plans – theoretically speaking.

Photo above of Tom Cruise in Minority Report by 20th Century Fox. Photo below from the movie 1984.


Facebook Kills Social for Profit – Transforms into Facebuck

Facebook will change the news feed to decrease the number of blatant promotional messages people see… The move essentially devalues the posts brands push out from their Pages, which may mean more paid advertisement revenue for Facebook.” – Facebook To Companies: No More Free Ride FB – SFGate.

What’s happening? When you ‘like’ something on Facebook it doesn’t mean you want to ‘follow‘ or ‘subscribe‘ anymore – it now essentially triggers the collection of interest meta data so Facebook can show you more relevant ads.

If I owned any Facebook stock, I’d sell immediately. This is not financial advice, just what I would do.

Why? No, no, not for ethical reasons – although those would be valid. My main reason would be that these new policies effectively kill the social aspect of Facebook. If some centrally managed profit-minded master algorithm controls what I see on Facebook, then the experience is no longer social. It’s managed.

Conversely, if I follow an individual or business on Twitter, all their posts are delivered to my home timeline unless its true spam. It’s left up to me to unfollow folks that post stuff I think is junk. People that make noise are naturally tuned-out as others chose to unfollow them.

Today Facebook manages the experience, not the people, so it’s no longer a truly social site. It’s a centrally managed content delivery platform that learns what people like and then delivers the appropriate content including a high percentage of advertisements that look like followed content.

This approach will eventually kill Facebook if the trend continues. When people realize that they are no longer receiving what they want to see, they will leave.

Facebook management is likely attempting to manage this potential exodus by monitoring user activity versus ad levels. But any centrally managed system ultimately fails – just like our managed and manipulated economy. While central management can produce results for a period of time, it ultimately fails because it’s not a natural system that constantly seeks a sustainable balance.

People, on a truly social site, is a natural system of sorts. It’s the human (natural) element constantly seeking balance through selection that leads to a successful social balance. In other words people get what they want because they choose to see it.

Many investors won’t initially see this transformation from Facebook into Facebuck as a problem. They will see the initial spike in profit and cheer. These people are also steeped in the centralist mindset, preferring central management to natural balance via free market virtues.

Eventually they’ll wake up to the reality that something is wrong when people begin to leave Facebuck. They’ll probably blame the way the system is centrally managed, but I suspect they’ll never blame the centralist culture itself. For that awakening they’ll need a stronger signal.

What to do?

  • If you’re a social media professional using Facebook as a marketing platform, be prepared to pay more, More, MORE – and immediately begin to diversify your development of channels including reverting back to old-school SEO and email marketing.
  • If you’re a Facebook stockholder – be warned. Watch the trends closely for the looming collapse and sell before your investment becomes a statistic.
  • If you’re a avid Facebook user, notice how your timeline is changing and how you see fewer posts from friends and pages you follow. Check out Twitter again and up-and-comer Ello.
  • If you’re a social media startup entrepreneur looking for an opportunity, see this critical flaw in Facebook’s monetization strategy and don’t replicate it. Choose instead to allow people to self-select and embrace a decentralized, crowd-sourced, content delivery strategy; and choose a monetization strategy that enhances the user experience instead of one that replaces it.
  • If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, consider giving users a true ‘follow’ or ‘subscribe’ button. This will allow you to continue on your path while giving users a mechanism for opting-into content they always want to see in their timelines. Then, jump-start an ad network to rival AdSense. This will allow you to monetize the traffic that leaves Facebook and partner more closely with content creators. Instead of alienating bloggers and corporations by forcing them to pay to play – turn on the revenue tap, let the traffic flow, and collect ad revenue as people come and go. Just be sure to build that ad publishing network that can coexist with AdSense, and you’ll have bloggers and content creators lining up to join. The icing on the cake would be to share content publishing best practices with page owners. Revealing this secret sauce would help content creators optimize their campaigns from the start and reduce noise. In other words if people are told that a  certain behavior will benefit them, they will do it – just tell them and in practice they will see.

I’m not opposed to Facebook becoming more profitable. I just think most folks can’t see their own centralist bias – and how in the end it destroys. Our cultures pendulum has been swinging toward the centralist side for some time, and we see the resistance and limits to the trend building. I think this is really the core reason companies like Facebook make decisions like these… it’s a cultural trend thing.

At some point they’ll see something is not working and look for a change. The only true change would be to change the paradigm, in this case think decentralist again, and avoid trying to fix the current paradigm.


Flying Car: Example of Why the Acquisition Paradigm Is so Powerful

The thirst for more knowledge, achievements, advancements, etc drives the human race today, but it’s a double-edged sword. The bright side of putting acquisition above everything else is achievements like this flying car by AeroMobil. The dark blood-stained side are the wars we fight for economic strength & stability. Can we have the light without the dark? Can we balance our greed and lust for acquiring more with everything else? Can we put balance over acquisition and still achieve amazing things like this flying car? I hope so, because if we can we will reach the stars.

CNC Machine Lets You Finish an AR-15 Lower Receiver at Home

Like any computer-numerically-controlled (or CNC) mill, the one-foot-cubed black box uses a drill bit mounted on a head that moves in three dimensions to automatically carve digitally-modeled shapes into polymer, wood or aluminum. But this CNC mill, sold by Wilson’s organization known as Defense Distributed for $1,200, is designed to create one object in particular: the component of an AR-15 rifle known as its lower receiver.” – WIRED

You can preorder this specialized CNC machine today, but maybe you’re wondering… how is this legal?

The Gun Control Act of 1968, the same law that kicked-off gun control in America, has a provision that allows an individual to manufacture their guns for personal use.

For your information, per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.” – ATF.gov

The AR-15 is one of the most popular guns in America and one of the easiest guns to build. After the Sandy Hook School Shooting gun control law threats from our government shot through the roof – and so did gun sales in response. Out of that buying frenzy emerged a growing gun hobby segment – the homemade gun market.

Today if you search for “80% receiver” you will find many small companies selling the key ingredient – an unfinished lower receiver for an AR-15. If you were to buy a complete AR-15 at a gun store, this would be the single part on the weapon that has a serial number. All the other parts are just pieces of metal as far as gun laws are concerned. If you finish the lower receiver yourself you are not required to put a serial number on it. But you may never sell the gun. To manufacture guns for sale you must be licensed by the government.

So the Gun Control Act of 1968 is what allows Defense Distributed to sell the Ghost Gunner CNC printer legally. But the truth is that anyone with a block of aluminum and a common CNC machine can make the same part. The Ghost Gunner CNC machine just makes it easy to finish this AR-15 part at home without any other skills or tools.

Ghost Gunner

How to Make an AR-15

Normally if you wanted to finish an 80% receiver without a CNC machine all you’d need is a drill, router, and jig – which would be much less expensive than a CNC machine. The advantage of this new CNC machine is that it makes it easier because it automatically makes all the cuts for you.

80 percent recier and jig

Freaking out yet? It gets worse… Once you’ve finished this single part (above) you need the rest of the parts to build your gun, kits can be purchased online for as little as $500.


AR-Stoner AR-15 Carbine Kit

So if you went the DIY route and bought a jig and unfinished receiver you could in a few hours have yourself a semi-automatic AR-15 for about $700 (not including tools).

You could argue that these parts and tools empower bad guys… and that’s partially true. But remember, if this is news to you you’re way behind the curve. Bad guys already know this. Bad guys have been able get the tools they need to do bad things FOR EVER. Bad guys ignore gun laws and do whatever they want.  The Second Amendment protects your right to defend yourself from bad guys.

What to do?

Guns are not going away any time soon. Neither is the wheel or fire. We’ve eaten from apple of the forbidden tree. The cat is out of the bag and has long since left the building. We can either chose to ignore the reality of our situation or face it head-on and mature.

Someday I think humanity will mature to a point where we can handle the huge responsibility of technology. Technology can be used for good and bad. Until we learn to prioritize balance over acquisition, greed will drive some people to use technology for violence. Until then peaceful people will need to use technology to defend themselves.


Pig Latin Encryption May Even Be Better than the iPhone 6 NSA-defeating Data Encryption

The iPhone 6 Plus may be bending in people’s pockets and under the pressure of tough hands, but it’s not bending to the will of the US National Security Agency NSA any longer.” – inverse.com

Very nice to hear the iPhone 6 can defeat the NSA; I just don’t think I believe it. It’s also a little bit funny that Apple would leverage this slippery topic (NSA domestic spying) to market their phones – but maybe it will help this very real issue be taken more seriously by the main stream.

Why am I skeptical about their data encryption claims? I’m not sure anyone really knows what a hacker can hack unless that hacker makes it known to you. For all I know the CIA & NSA can decrypt MD5 and other hashes. If they choose to watch and leave no trace of their visit – how would I know they were here. Oh sure I could analyze logs and hope intruder detection software works – but a clever hacker may be able to access any connected system.

Hidden Bunkers are Better than Castles – I think of encryption like a fortress. Any fortress can be taken, any defense defeated, it’s a historical fact. So a slightly better strategy may be camouflage. Instead of putting your data in an encrypted vault that has a big sign on it saying ‘SAFE’, put it in a hidden safe – or don’t put it online at all. In other words think hidden bunker versus castle because if they don’t even know you’re there, they can get you. (Good strategy for the Zombie Apocalypse too!)

Camouflaged Bunkers with Secret Doors are Better than Bunkers – If you can’t hide the fact that you exist, consider a camouflage deception. For example, if you keep passwords on your computer put some fake passwords and accounts in a fake file named ‘My Passwords’. Then somewhere else, under an inconspicuous filename, put the real passwords file and create a simple, easy to remember ‘decryption code’ that you keep in your head and can use on-the-fly.

In other words use a self-invented Pig Latin decryption key. Don’t use Pig Latin itself – too easy to decrypt, but invent something as easy to remember. Here’s a Pig Latin refresher:

  • pig => igpay
  • banana => ananabay
  •  trash => ashtray

Like I said, while this particular method would be easy to guess, it illustrates the idea. To take it the next level you might consider some of the following ideas:

  • Add two random characters to the front or back of your recorded passwords. You simply remember to ignore the first or last characters. This would be very easy to remember but easier to crack too.
  • In the real passwords use certain numbers for letters that resemble them like 8 for B or 7 for L. Then when using the password you just remember Bs are actually 8s.
  • Record correctly spelled words in passwords (which is a terrible thing to do for real passwords) then remember your preferred misspelling of that word in the true password. For example, 1Password! might really be 1Pazzwerd!
  • Flip two word passwords around. For example, record a password like, 1badpassword! but really use password!1bad.
  • If you flip things around in any way, like letters or words, be sure they look more correct in their encrypted form. This way the obvious decryption is not easy to spot. For example, if the encrypted password is: 1RedBird! the true password could be: Bird!1Red. The capital letter in the middle of the string shows you where to flip it and RedBird actually makes sense so it just looks like a bad but real password. You could step it up and always replace certain letters with numbers like: 8ird!1R3d (capital B is 8 -and- e is 3).

So why go through this? Hackers hack, and if they can get into a big corporations like Target & Home Depot they can hack your computer. Most of the time professional hackers are going to focus on the castles because the loot is more plentiful, but home networks are easy prey.

Many times home networks are insecure and have wide open holes via printers and other networked devices. So the information on our computers is vulnerable, especially if we leave our computers on all the time without firewalls enabled. With automated tools hackers can scan the Internet in their sleep looking for vulnerable systems, so even though your system may not look like a gold mine, the bots may still visit and test your security.

These little Pig Latin Encryption tricks may seem extreme, but they could be your last line of defense if someone were to hack your machine. The hacker would think they have your password list, but in truth they would have to spend real time (as opposed to automated bot time) to noodle-through your password encryption – assuming they thought you had implemented one. It’s more likely that they would just give up and move on.

You can do the same thing with credit card numbers, drivers license numbers, social security numbers, and so on – assuming you already keep a list of those things on your computer.

But the true last line is to simply keep these things written in a little book in your pocket. But if you do that, definitely use a Pig Latin Decryption system since that little black book may someday go missing too, and that would suck.

Data Point: People Are Not Watching Main Stream Media

At this rate, in the next month or two, CNBC should make history when Nielsen reports that its viewers have dropped to a never before seen low, paradoxically enough, as the increasingly unwatched financial channel cheers on the very same market-rigging policies that are forcing retail investors to give up on anything finance-related, and crushing the station into ad-revenue and eyeball oblivion.” –Zero Hedge

It is bound to happen. It’s happened to radio and now television. The Internet is just so much better for connecting people with information – and quite often it’s peer-to-peer information sharing via social media. Can’t say I’m not happy to see the old TV set go.


Immediately Conduct an Audit of Your Home Network – It May Be Wide Open to Hackers

It seems to be a normal practice for network device manufacturers (like HP and IOmega) to leave the password protection wide open on all sorts of network devices like printers, scanners, security camera systems, network storage devices, and so on.

I suspect this is done to make the devices easier to install and use, increasing their user friendly feel while lowering the cost to support. Sadly the side effect is that hackers can easily connect to these devices and access your saved data. So while your computer may be secure with a password, your network devices may be wide open to hacking.

To protect yourself dive back into the manuals for your home network devices and learn how to activate the security functionality. Be sure to pick a difficult password to break that contains numbers, special characters, and most importantly words not found in any dictionary.

Listen to music all day long for free on YouTube

OK… this is not news, but an excellent moment to mention that there is nothing that can permanently stop the flow of free music and information. I know the music industry and the millions of intellectual property owners worldwide will continue to fight to keep a price tag on their content creations but in the end, information wants to be free, and will be.

I’m still pissed at Apple for buying and crapping out Lala.com, a competitor. While in a search for more free music online my wife pointed out that I can listen to free music all day long on YouTube. Thanks Julia!

I’m not saying everyone should give up and give it away free today. Just saying that those that begin preparing for the day where their business models will need to adapt will be the ones to stay in business.

Apple sends Lala.com to the virtual electric chair tomorrow

Apple Inc. bought the online music service Lala.com back in 2009 and now Apple is shutting down their former iTunes competitor. (see news story at WSJ)

This kind of thing makes me sick.

It’s also a good example of what can happen when a company gets too big and uses its strength to squash a rival. You see instead of competing with Lala.com, Apple choose to simply buy them and shut them down. I guess that’s one of the perks that come with success, you can eat your competitors.

But I shouldn’t complain too much, I’ve been a cheer leader for Apple since they were small and part of the real mechanism behind Apple’s growth. So we can’t really blame the giants for their size if we’re not ready to change our voting (spending) habits.

I for one will think twice before I take another bite of this bitter Apple… and Linux is looking more and more user friendly every day.

Google must know everything. Why worry?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California and left with the lingering impression that Google must know everything.

I realize this is the stuff of science fiction and conspiracy theory but I think we’re at a place in time where fiction is becoming reality. Shoot… just look at the technology in your own pocket and then look around your house; then think back to what life was like 20 years ago.

Speaking of time slipping by, on this date twenty years ago the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were 23 and 22. Google got its start in March of 1996 as a research project by  as a school project, specifically it was the Stanford Digital Library Project. You can read the complete history on wikipedia but I wanted to put into perspective that in the short time Google has existed they have been able to concentrate an enormous amount of information, wealth, and power.

But like all centers of power they are also double edged swords simply due to their size. Brands like Google and Apple have earned a lot of public trust, but now that they have acquired so much power, can they still be trusted?

It’s kind of like having an immortal benevolent giant as a pet who is really good at taking care of himself. As he grows he becomes more and more helpful. In fact soon you begin to depend on him for everything and he seems perfectly happy to look after you. But at some point living with giants can get a little dicey when they forget who’s in charge.

This is the potential problem with immortal benevolent giants. When power concentrates and the human scale is forgotten we all become at risk of experiencing the other side of the double edged sword. No conspiracy theory here… just a bit of philosophical rambling and something to noodle over the next time you’re out surfing the information waves.