Late last year I wrote on this blog about my frustration with the lack of…
Many know the name Kaspersky well. Others may only dimly recognize the brand name. Its anti-virus and Internet security software has been around for years in computer stores and OEM’d with computer systems. More than a year ago, I became concerned about what I was learning about Kaspersky Lab and its headquarters in Moscow, I began asking myself hypothetical rhetorical questions. What if Kaspersky was quietly working with the Russian FSB? What if Kaspersky had installed a sleeping Trojan Horse in millions of copies of its consumer computer security software? I was a user of Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity software myself. I knew that it was rated very highly by the tech journals. I liked its elegance and simplicity compared with other competitor products from U.S. based companies like Symantec and McAffee. Nevertheless, as the Russian hacking of the 2016 election became an ever-larger issue, I decided to pull the plug on Kaspersky because of my fears, though there was no direct evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Kremlin at that time, wiped my system clean, and installed another competitor product.
For over a year now I have blogged here about the red flags flying about Travis Kalanick and Uber. Many investigative articles have been published over this time, in the New York Times and other publications, which have raised disturbing questions about Uber, Kalanick and some members of his team. The Board of Directors has finally taken action but it feels like its a day late and a dollar short. Why did it take so long? I have bluntly used the epithet that “Uber is Trump,” but now on reflection, it is more apt to describe Uber as Enron the sequel, and “deja vu all over again.” Remember the audio of two Enron electricity traders laughing about “screwing grandma?” That is Uber.
As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize. Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money. The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security. The question is what we can do about it.
The U.S. government shutdown crisis is driven by an entirely new and dangerous dynamic in American politics. It is not easy to discern, but it is there. A number of different U.S. news media have begun reporting on this phenomenon and have editorialized on it. Last night before the shutdown actually occurred, one political commentator abandoned all of the tedious “talking points,” promoted by both sides, and spoke the truth. He said simply that the political paralysis problem in the United States was precipitated by the growing plutocracy (government by the extremely rich), and corporate political money empowered by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Its focus, goal and strategy is exclusively to discredit The President of the United States personally. It has little or nothing to do with opposing policy issues. It is personal and racist.
Tonight I was channel surfing and stumbled on the Task One iPhone Case in a TV News feature story from an outfit called Task Labs.. Their website is up but not complete. It still has the Latin text of an incomplete webpage template, but you can buy it online if you wish. I want to emphasize that I wish to be completely fair here. I am a dedicated Swiss Army Knife aficionado and a dedicated smart mobile user. I have a simple version of a Swiss Army Knife with a corkscrew in my pocket as I write this. A corkscrew is one of my mandatory survival tools (smile). I have followed the Wall Street Journal coverage of the merger of the two Swiss companies that produce the knives. It is a great story and a great product. I have the full Boy Scout version in my tool drawer. The Task Labs people should also remember the tried and true publicity adage, “Any PR is good PR.”
There is a new player emerging on the cultural and business scene today: the idea entrepreneur. Perhaps you are one yourself — or would like to be. The idea entrepreneur is an individual, usually a content expert and often a maverick, whose main goal is to influence how other people think and behave in relation to their cherished topic. These people don’t seek power over others and they’re not motivated by the prospect of achieving great wealth. Their goal is to make a difference, to change the world in some way.
Yesterday, I was an invited guest at an annual “entrepreneurship” event held in Vancouver. The event is an extraordinary opportunity to connect with most of the major figures, leaders, and investors in the entrepreneurship community. It also prominently showcased presentations from a number of the most promising new startups. But the undercurrents in conversations around the room were soul searching questions about the current glut of startup accelerators around North America, and the frothy euphoria and enthusiasm about “entrepreneurship.” Some experienced entrepreneurial investors complained about the air of unreality of it all, and the excess of mediocre companies being cranked out. A very prominent and experienced Vancouver venture capitalist pointed out to me that a glut of Canadian startups only compounds the long-standing issue that Canada could not produce the necessary risk capital even if more of these companies were investment ready, which they are not. A related issues is the waste of government money in these companies. Clearly, the situation is a mess.
I have heard a number of students express the fear that apps like Coursesmart will crash at the worst possible time:exams. Now it has happened, which creates a market acceptance problem that will take months to repair.. It is similar to the Odwalla juice contamination case study that eventually took the company to near bankruptcy.
This is a very Big Deal, which increases the likelihood that Big Data will be a very Big Deal.
While the Canadian economy is expected to languish in the doldrums for the foreseeable future, D-Wave, a Vancouver quantum computing company, with e@UBC funding, is making big waves (pun intended). Seemingly out of the blue we now have two Vancouver companies that may be showing Canada the way out of its “natural resource curse:” D-Wave and potentially also Hootsuite.