(Really?) Free The Pictures – Review with PSA

Brian S. Hall has a overview of free cloud picture services at ReadWrite. Interestingly, before he gets to the review itself, he notes

Before diving into the features of the various services, it should be noted that taking advantage of any of these free cloud services comes with a potential price. As the saying goes, if an online site isnt selling you a product, then you are the product.

Good to see a public service announcement of sorts about the costs of “free” services becoming a normal part of a review. While well known to folks who keep up on tech issues, this material is still unknown to many people.

This Can’t End Well: 3D-Printed Gun in Israeli Parliament

At some point, maker culture opens the door to un-maker culture…

Imagine a person holding a gun on his lap, fully visible, while in the same room as President Barack Obama. The equivalent recently happened in Israel when investigative journalists from Channel 10 TV tested government security by slipping a functioning 3D-printed gun into the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, and into an address by the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the journalists got past Knesset security twice. The Channel 10 journalists printed the gun based on designs from U.S. nonprofit Defense Distributed, and although it contains one metal part, a nail that serves as a firing pin, the gun even made it past a metal detector.

(Via Sean Captain at TechNewsDaily.com | 3D-Printed Gun in Israeli Parliament Ignites Security Concerns. Story has links through to the original Israeli news report.)

Markey Letter to ATF re: Printed Guns

U.S. Congressman Ed Markey’s letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about Defense Distributed’s manufacturing of 3-D printed guns (public domain)

In an interview that covered key ideas on the singularity, advanced technology proponent Ray Kurzweil argued that while new, powerful technologies open the door to harm and terrorism, humans have the power to rein in the danger. But to do that, he suggests “we need to give a higher priority to preparing protective strategies and systems. We need to put a few more stones on the defense side of the scale.”

Given what has been revealed about the NSA data gathering and the broadening legal acceptability of online surveillance, somehow I don’t see anyone adding “more stones” to law enforcement anytime soon. Indeed, part of the motivation for printed guns seems to be precisely protection from the “defense side of the scale”.

Not to be a total downer, but how does this end well?

And what was that about an eye for an eye leaving the world blind?

Coins to Tunes

Mom found one just like Grandpa's bank!As a six year old, one of my favorite things about visiting my grandparents in their small, southern Illinois town was the thrill of splitting the pile of change from my grandfather’s piggy bank with my brother.  It wasn’t a piggy, actually, but a portly, tonsured monk, complete with fake fur for hair. The classic Friar Tuck, really.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to be an image of frugality or a critical commentary on medieval monks. But either way, we were glad that my grandfather was frugal so that we could feel a 6 year old’s version of gluttonousness.

We don’t have a piggy bank these days, but the change abounds.  Which is why I loved seeing Kelly Hodgkins short piece at TUAW.

You are probably familiar with the coin-counting service Coinstar, which offers cash in exchange for your loose coins. Instead of receiving a cash voucher next time you turn in change, select an iTunes gift certificate and you will receive a receipt with an iTunes redemption code.

The funds will be added to your Apple ID and you can use it to buy iOS Apps, OS X apps, music, movies and books. Coinstar waives the coin-counting fee with these gift certificates, so you will walk away with your full balance. The coin-counting service occasionally offers an iTunes promotion thatll give you an extra $10 when you redeem a minimum amount usually $40. You can find promotions on Coinstars Special Offers webpage or be alerted via email when you sign up for a Coinstar account.

I’ve never used Coinstar machines because they charge that fee. But this looks like a great way to put that change to good use while bringing back the thrill of the coin pile.

Happy Easter and World Backup Day

‘Tis been a bit since I’ve posted. A bad cold, piles of papers, and lots of papal news have kept my attention elsewhere. Apologies. But I’ve been thinking about you a lot, and mulling over lots of questions.

But for today, let me wish all of you who celebrate it a blessed and happy Easter. Let me also wish all of you a happy World Backup Day! I couldn’t agree more with Steven Sande at The Unofficial Apple Weblog when he says:

If you haven’t yet lost data on your Mac or iOS device, you will. At some point, whether due to an accidental deletion, a physical glitch in your hardware, a disaster striking your home or office or the terrifying power of bored teenagers, you’ll find that some precious family photos or important documents are gone forever. You cant go back in time to retrieve that information, so make sure it is backed up now.

I’ve lost lots of data over the past 30 years, and I am pretty good at backing up. Always seems like drives crash just when I get comfortable. When it happens, I end up spending weeks trying to recreate what I’ve lost or find copies that I’ve stashed in different places. I’ve been able to get some stuff back by recovering drives, but resurrection of that kind is rare.

If you don’t have a good backup strategy, take a bit of time on Easter Monday and check out some of the tips and tricks that folks are offering. Lots of good advice to make your corner of the virtual world not quite so fleeting.

Ooops, I Did It Again! I’ll Never Get SEO Right…

I was just reading some advice on how to increase web traffic and make sure your blog gets noticed on search engines. I’ve been feeling guilty that now that I’m no longer Freshly Pressed, my little old blog doesn’t get more traffic.

The first rule seems to be using popular web keywords in the title and throughout the article. If you don’t use popular terms, then the site won’t be “search engine optimized” and no one will find it.

I’m in trouble. Somehow, I don’t think “cat piano,” Athanasius Kircher, Plato, or the year 1904 fit into the “hot keywords” category. Nor that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure reference.

Do I need to write more columns about Justin Beiber and President Obama? Or do I just consider this a “first world problem” and get back to writing?

Privacy Is Only as Strong as Your Weakest Friend, David Petraeus Edition

You may be awesome at keeping the lid tight on your online data. Like, “Leader of the CIA” tight. But how about your friends?

The collapse of the impressive career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with know­ledge of the episode.

The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said.

When you share data, you share data with everyone that your partner ever shared data with…

BTW, an email counts as “data”. Even if the accounts are anonymous (as Broadwell’s seems to have been). Service providers are being asked to give it up more and more all the time. And they frequently comply.

Via Sari Horowitz and Greg Miller at The Washington Post. For more technical info, click through Ars Technica’s coverage.

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