Monday, December 10, 2018

Did We Invite in Big Brother?

Facebook Tracking My Movements With Breadcrumbs
Here's a fascinating podcast about how smartphone apps track your location (more than 14,000 times/day, in some cases) and how this anonymous data loses its anonymity.

The knowledge that you're being watched changes your behavior (the antithesis of privacy). It's the Heisenberg uncertainty principle at the macro level. This doesn't only apply to smartphones since even a basic cell phone needs to be tracked by cell phone towers, but not with the same level of granularity as a GPS enabled smartphone.

This screen shot, from a few years ago, shows how Facebook tracked me, unknowingly, as I went to visit a high school classmate at Club M at the Grand Del Mar resort.

You can always turn off location services for an app or smartphone. But the cell phone towers will still have a good idea of where you're at. Tracking isn't only limited to web browsers as the woman in this podcast mentions (visit http://history.google.com to see the info Google keeps on you).

Note: This post is a follow up to the Facebook tracking privacy issues I first noticed about five years ago:
http://blog.joemoreno.com/2014/06/facebook-tracking-and-privacy-concerns.html

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Internet Bottleneck

It's interesting that the Internet bottleneck of 2000 is now reversed. In 2000, less than 20 years ago, when I setup my first wireless router in my home, the bottleneck was the dial-up bandwidth connection to my house.

Today, the bottleneck is on the other end, at the server. High demand video websites now govern their outgoing bandwidth to our homes. In other words, they slow down how fast they serve you a movie because they have to pay for that bandwidth, and video requires a lot of it, so they use it wisely and efficiently. 

Today, the speed of your internal WiFi can be a limiting factor for even a small home as multiple family members are watching videos at the same time. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

I'm Excited

Only twice has my Apple Watch warned me that my heart rate was elevated above 120 bpm while I was inactive. Now this may sound ridiculous, but both times it was caused by a personal "Apple" event.

The first time it happened I was standing still for awhile when I received a text message that my HomePod had been delivered to my doorstep on release day. I was initially concerned about my elevated heart rate, since this had never happened before. After some thought (and no chest pains or palpitations) I concluded it was the good news about the HomePod delivery that spiked my pulse.

The second time it happened I was halfway through a flight from San Jose to San Diego. I was reading several articles where Jony Ive was detailing the excitement he feels when tackling new problems as he explained his design process and philosophy. While reading his words, I could sense his excitement without realizing it and my Apple Watch alerted me to my spiked heart rate. I quickly reached the same conclusion as the previous time, plus, I tend to have a very high max heart rate that's over 200 bpm.

I guess I truly and deeply get excited over Apple. I'm sure there are others. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beautiful iOS Keyboard Editing Feature



For years, I've wanted a simple feature for the iOS keyboard which let me reposition the cursor without lifting my finger off the keyboard. It turns out this exact feature has been in iOS, but I don't know for how long. Regardless, it's very handy. Simply press and hold on your iOS keyboard and it will turn your keyboard into a virtual trackpad. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Little Dog, Big Presence

Drafting this blog post with handwriting recognition software. 
Years ago, I was at a car dealership in Santa Cruz. The U-shaped waiting room was too tiny for the half a dozen of us to ignore each other, especilly the older lady with a chuahah which quickly became the center of conversation for all of us. The cuteness of her dog was a natural draw for people; doubly so for little kids due to its smallness.

The lady said that little kids could sometimes be a bit too rough with her dog and quickly overwhelm it. But, she pointed out that she came up with an ideal solution. She taught the dog to growl on the command “ferocious” and then she demonstrated.

"Excuse me, is your dog friendly? Can I pet him?" she said kids would ask her.


"Be careful, he is ferocious," she’d respond. As she told us this story, the dog showed his teeth and let out a growl fiercer than his size. We all roared with laughter. She then said, "Growl," a couple more times, and each time, the dog let out a highly convincing growl. Impressive and effective. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

iPhone XS Waterproofing

I forgot I placed my iPhone XS on the hot tub cover.
When I flipped the lid closed, into the hot tub my phone went.
The new iPhone XS is suppose to be waterproof; or at least water-resistant for up to 30 minutes when submerged in two meters of water. I have always been very careful with my iPhone. After more than a decade of iPhones, I've never dropped one in water or cracked a screen, etc. 

Last night, I decided to use my iPhone while soaking in the hot tub. I've only done this a couple times since getting the iPhone XS, last month. (I don't even have a case for it.) And, wouldn't you know it, I dropped it into the hot tub for about 30 seconds (That's how long it took me to find it.) I pulled it out of the water and, lo and behold, it hasn't skipped a beat. It's working perfectly.

I would have never brought it into the hot tub, had it not been water resistant, but, now it's nice to know that it works as advertised.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Leadership Delegation


Delegation is an important leadership action. However, it’s critical to fully understand what can and can’t be delegated. In order for a leader’s subordinates to be fully empowered, the leader must delegate their authority. This is the reason a military policeman, with a low rank of private, can detain, ticket, and even arrest a colonel on a military base. Specifically, the commanding general of the base has delegated their authority to the military police.


However — and this is crucial to understanding leadership theory — a leader can never delegate responsibility. If a leader could delegate responsibility then no leader would  be held accountable. If this wasn’t the case, and responsibility could be delegated, then if a leader ever found themselves in a pickle they could simply claim they had delegated responsibility to their subordinate.

Failed leaders who don't understand this are easy to spot since they are quick to blame and they frequently throw their direct reports under the bus, which creates zero loyalty. It doesn’t maintain a responsibility to the long term.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vote!

I rarely publish anything partisan since most people have already made up their mind– and this piece is no exception. It will take a huge paradigm shift for someone to change a political point of view or affiliation.

But, now is your time to make a difference and put your political thoughts, ideas, and beliefs into action by voting. My goal isn’t to tell you what to think, especially not via a one-sided, emotional story that's out of context; rather, my point is to encourage you how to think using logic and reason for a deeper understanding of the issues. There are a times when we simply want to be told what to think, instead of figuring it out, ourselves – this is not one of those times.

The more citizens who vote, the more representative our federal presidential constitutional republic will be.


Protesting Without Action is Complaining

Most all political talk from private citizens (social media, beer and bar philosophizing, etc) ranges from useless noise to parroting others' views without critical thought and deep understanding. Protest without identifiable, effective action is simply complaining. Sure, sometimes the sheer volume of the protest, in itself, is enough to effect change, but that’s rare --- especially when protesters' views are diametrically opposed those of their government. Protesting didn’t work effectively during the Vietnam War, the rise of fascism during WW II, Tiananmen Square, etc. It's great that we have the right to air our grievances but it's terrible how much work it takes to be effective in the face of government power. Giving blood for a failed cause isn't effective.

Politics, without objective truth, is partisanship and, frequently, chauvinism in its extreme forms. I can usually justify a position on either side of a political hot button issue simply by flipping the timeframe from short-term to long-term, or vice versa; what seems like a good idea, today, might be bad decision, tomorrow. As a random example, it’s very easy to oppose most any ballot initiatives involving construction/infrastructure development with a blanket claim “the biggest beneficiary of this initiative is the general contractor since they’ll be paid to do this work.”

While the Constitution may be nearly ideal, our government is made of imperfect people and politicians who decided that slavery was good business, women shouldn’t vote, Japanese-American citizens needed to be interned during WW II, etc. We make mistakes.


Democrats vs. Republicans

Democrats and Republicans both try to create a fair government, but they go about it from different angles.

By de facto definition, Democrats tend to be left-leaning liberals who believe there are inherent inequalities in society which need to be evened out. For example, simply because a person grew up in a broken home doesn’t mean they shouldn't be given the opportunity to reach their full potential if given a little boost (i.e. grant, scholarship, etc). This left-leaning philosophy does not fully describe my political leanings in all cases.

By de facto definition, Republicans tend to be right-leaning conservatives who feel that all inequalities in society can’t be evened out, believing that societal hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable. For example, some citizens will continue to make very poor decisions (declare bankruptcy, drive drunk, etc) and they shouldn’t be allowed to game the system and receive free handouts at tax payers' expense. This right-leaning philosophy does not fully describe my political leanings in all cases.

What we really want are humble leaders with a human side, not heroic leaders who we expect to be perfectly infallible. Leaders who thoughtfully look at the issues and make decisions based on a responsibility for the long term while focusing on the present.

California Pacific Airlines: Dead on Arrival


How brutal is this? After more than nine years, California Pacific Airlines "crashes" trying to get off the ground on its first day of operations. (Ok, it didn't really crash, but one of their planes did have an accident, days earlier.)

I thought I would be part of history when I booked my ticket for California Pacific Airlines's first flight, on their first day of operations, last Thursday, at Carlsbad's Palomar Airport. (This airport has a special place in my heart since it's where I learned to fly.) I had to be in San Jose by 2:30 PM, Thursday afternoon, for my speaking engagement. I booked CPA's 7 AM flight, wondering what I'd do with the extra few hours before my talk.

As I bellied up to the counter to check in, before 6 AM on Thursday, I was immediately told by one of the three ticket agents/flight attendants that my flight was cancelled due to a mechanical problem. (I now wonder if it was related to their previous week's plane accident.) Then they told me they'd be happy to book me on the evening flight about 12 hours later. I told them that wouldn't work since I was returning that evening, also with CPA. 

I spoke to the agents both at ticketing and on their reservations phone line, all of whom were very pleasant, but they simply offered a refund. Mechanical problems, like this one, have happened to me, in the past, when United Airlines used to fly out of Carlsbad. When it did happen, United booked all of the passengers on new flights and provided car service to San Diego Airport, downtown. No such luck with CPA. They could have offered this, especially since it was their first day of operations. They also could have offered vouchers, ticket endorsements to fly on another airline, etc.

To put a finer point on the matter, I am writing this, a week after the cancelled flight, with no sign of the refund processing on my credit card (this was supposed to be handled Thursday morning). Perhaps soon? I also sent a direct, yet professional and respectful e-mail to CPA customer service which has gone unacknowledged. 


CPA Leadership MIA

One thing that struck me as odd was how quiet the Carlsbad airport terminal was, when I arrived. (CPA is the only scheduled airline flying out Carlsbad.) I wondered, on the drive to the airport, if CPA would have any banners, balloons, bagels, or coffee to celebrate their first day of operations. Instead, the pleasant CPA line employees were offered as cannon fodder for disgruntled passengers. Where was CPA's senior management or the board of directors to celebrate such a historic day? Where was Paul Hook, Mickey Bowman, Ted Valles, John Barkley, etc? Not a single executive was visible to apologize for failing to get off the ground on their first day. (The Union Tribune also noted the lack of fanfare for their first flight.)


Holding the Bag

So, where did that leave me? It left me with a 1,000 mile round trip drive, through LA rush hour traffic, to get to Silicon Valley. I've driven cross country about half a dozen times --- sometimes alone when I was in the Marines --- but this was the first time I spent 16 hours, driving 1,000 miles in a day. A new record for me.

By the time I returned home, it had been a 22 hour day, for me. This is the lesson I teach to others, about Apple:
Best possible customer experience.
What more can a company do to make the experience better for their customers (especially due to a company's shortcomings)?

If only CPA put as much care into their customers as I did with mine, requiring me to spend an unplanned 16 hours driving so I wouldn't cancel my commitment.

You cannot build a reputation on what you're going to do. Nine years in the making and CPA's customers were left worse off than if they never tried to get off the ground on that first day. At least that's exactly what my experience was and I think we can see the writing on the wall. I fully expect CPA to be tripping over themselves to make things better for their customers.

Monday, October 22, 2018

HTML Injection for the Better Good?

This is surprising and it doesn't make me feel good.


HTML Injection in the bottom right.
This morning I received an e-mail from my ISP (Cox) stating that I'm getting close to my 1 TB monthly bandwidth limit. This is the first time I've received any type of warning from Cox. I clicked the link in the e-mail which gave me daily and monthly bandwidth usage stats for the previous two months. Everything quickly seemed to make sense. This month, I ran several upgrades for my laptop and iPhone plus I began storing my 100,000+ photos and videos in iCloud, so the extra bandwidth usage all seemed correct.

But then Cox went one step further.


HTML injections by Cox into a random website I was viewing.

Later in the day, as I was surfing the Web, I was surprised to see an HTML injection ("Cox Browser Alert") into an online article I was reading on a non-SSL/TLS news website. Again, Cox was reminding me that I was approaching my bandwidth limit. While this is clever, HTML injections feel a bit like a personal violation.

Unorthodox

Having an ISP inject HTML into a webpage is analogous to the USPS opening a third party envelope that's addressed to me and placing a note, inside the envelope, that I have some business to conduct with the USPS (i.e. a registered letter to pick up, an unpaid USPS bill, etc). It's great that they went above and beyond to let me know. But, it's also a scary reminder that man-in-the-middle attacks... or at least interference... is very simple for ISPs to do; and this is much worse than when they highjack a 404 page.