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02 Sep 21:58

Who is putting up ‘interceptor’ cell towers? The mystery deepens

by Barry Levine
Who is putting up ‘interceptor’ cell towers? The mystery deepens

Above: ESD America's map of the interceptors discovered so far

Image Credit: ESD America

Mysterious “interceptor” cell towers in the USA are grabbing phone calls — but they’re not part of the phone networks. And, two experts told VentureBeat today, the towers don’t appear to be projects of the National Security Agency (NSA).

The towers were revealed by Les Goldsmith to Popular Science last week. He’s CEO of ESD America, which builds the super-secure Cryptophone 500 for clients that need the military-grade security and can handle the estimated $3,500 price tag.

In the course of testing the phone, Goldsmith’s team discovered the existence of phone cell towers that intercept a call and hand it off to the real network — allowing the tower to listen in or load spyware to the mobile device.

In July, ESD America identified 17 of the towers, but now it has increased that outed inventory to 19. On its Facebook page, ESD America points out that an interceptor “doesn’t necessarily need to be a[n] actual cell tower,” but could simply be the listening/call handling technology sitting somewhere.

Who is installing and managing these interceptors?

Not the NSA, cloud security firm SilverSky CTO/SVP Andrew Jaquith told us. “The NSA doesn’t need a fake tower,” he said. “They can just go to the carrier” to tap your line.

“I would agree with that,” Goldsmith told us. But then who?

They could be from perhaps law enforcement agencies or the military, he suggested. A number of these towers are around military bases, although they’re also found in other locations, including the vicinity of the South Point Casino in Las Vegas.

The discovery “appears to confirm real-world use of techniques that have been highlighted by researchers for years,” said Stephen Ellis, manager of cyber threat intelligence at security firm iSIGHT Partners. While noting that his company “cannot confirm the accuracy of this reporting without further information,” Ellis told us that iSIGHT is “highly confident that we have observed real-world use of this technique in support of another of its uses – cyber crime [for] financial gain.”

“We have observed and reported on cases in other parts of the world where actors are known to have set up fake base stations to send spoofed SMS messages,” Ellis said, “possibly to send spam or to direct unsuspecting victims to malicious websites.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last month that it is launching an investigation into the use of cell network interceptors by criminal gangs and foreign intelligence.

We asked Goldsmith if he could be mistaken about the towers. Perhaps they are just commercial ones that seem unusual?

“We can definitely tell” that they’re non-network towers, he said, by analysis of the infrastructure. These phony towers, without names as normal towers have, insist to your phone that they must handle the call and then trick the phone into turning off its normal encryption.

Such a tower tells you that “none of your towers are currently available,” Goldsmith told us. It says, “‘I’m your tower.’

“If you wanted to listen to a phone call,” he said, “this would be the easy way.”








20 Aug 22:40

Herr Apache

by Dave

Germany’s strange, misguided obsession with the Native American 

 

11 Jul 17:03

14,000 dead men receive draft registration notices after data snafu

by Sean Gallagher

Thanks to a small problem in data formatting, the US Selective Service System recently sent notices to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men who were most likely eligible for military service... during World War I. The error came thanks to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) clerk’s failure to include the century when exporting data from a drivers’ license database for transfer to the Selective Service.

According to an Associated Press report, the error wasn’t caught because the Selective Service System’s database only uses two-digit codes for birth years—so records from men born between 1893 and 1897 were flagged by the system as being from 1993 to 1997. As a result, men born over 117 years ago received notices that they would face imprisonment and fines if they did not immediately register for the draft.

PennDOT spokesperson Jan McKnight told the AP, "We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error."

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

11 Jul 18:43

French Juggler Creates Impressive Optical Illusions With Four Rings While Blindfolded

by Brian Heater

In this video shot at Le Parc de Balzac in Angers, France, French juggler Lindzee Poi once again performs some impressive optical tricks with four rings. This time out he does so with his eyes covered for added difficulty.

submitted via Laughing Squid Tips

05 Jul 08:20

During Cold War, CIA used ‘Doctor Zhivago’ as a tool to undermine Soviet Union (washingtonpost.com)

04 Jul 06:11

Photo









04 Jul 13:40

In Which We Skip Over Words Feverishly

by Alex

Buried Face Down

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

Seventeen
dir. Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines
120 minutes

"You need a half-a-cup of white sugar and half-a-cup of brown,” instructs Mrs. Hartling, Southside High School’s Home Economics teacher. In Seventeen, the documentary by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines, Mrs. Hartling’s class is in the final lap of their senior year. They are loud and unimpressed, near delirious. Sitting on a counter, one boy casually beats batter with one hand while resting his head on the other. Another student, Lynn Massie, is taking a nap. When questioned about skipping class, one girl quips, “So?” Her parting shot, “Kiss my ass.”

The year is 1982. The town is Muncie, Indiana. And the kitchen classroom, like Mrs. Hartling’s shrill and grinding voice, her tunic apron and Estelle Getty glasses, is a time capsule dressed in blue checkerboard curtains, fluorescent lights, plywood cupboards, and beige stoves. Today, pie: “Never re-roll a pie crust! Ever!” Tomorrow, citizenship, and “how to be a good person, to be honest.”

Conceived and produced by Peter Davis for PBS, Middletown was a six-part television documentary inspired by the sociological studies of Robert and Helen Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture (1929) and Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (1937). Divided into categories — religion, work, politics, play, marriage, and education — the series is a close and critical meditation on everyday working class American life in the early 1980s.

Reminiscent of Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker, Middletown is a slow moving train, slackening its pace in Muncie. Happenings, whatever they may be, are coeval. The mayoral election no more important than the pizza parlor facing foreclosure or a couple’s second go at love.

But Seventeen, the sixth in the series, never made it to television. Scheduled to air nearly thirty years ago on April 28th, 1982, the film was deemed too controversial and ran into what Davis calls, “an institutional buzzsaw.” While it eventually went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, hailed as “without a doubt one of the greatest movies, perhaps the greatest, about teenage life ever made,” PBS’s decision to cut it from the series resembles an adult dismissing his or her adolescent years. A shame, because more so than revolt or hotheaded choices, a “me too” moment in high school is closest to windfall.

Teenagers being teenagers, the plenary account — smoking pot, “getting good and drunk,” merrily swearing, giving birth while the baby’s father is at “the Boy’s Club playing basketball,” being angry and scrappy and rude, partying and getting sad, reading “dirty books” out loud in the library, disrespecting teachers, crudely talking about sex — was simply too hot for TV. Like the girl in Mrs. Hartling’s class, whose duelling “So?” is nasty but also bankrupt and idle, Seventeen is a portrait of what it is to be young, pivoting from stitch to sweet spot, stitch to sweet spot.

Perhaps most decisive was the subject of interracial dating: “White girls don’t mess with black guys but we swallow our pride for you guys because we care for you guys,” Tink and Massie inform their dates at the fair. When a cross is burned on Lynn parents’ lawn, she challenges the taboo and continues to see John. Harassing phone calls result; threats are made — parent to classmate, classmate to classmate. “My mom carries a gun and she ain't afraid to use it. Neither am I,” Lynn barks into the receiver.

In his 1985 review of the film, Vincent Canby likened Lynn to Belle Starr. One, a high school senior with Kristy McNichol hair, nervy swagger, and a slight squawk when she yells. The other, a 19th century Oklahoma outlaw. While the comparison is dreamy, it does appreciate the fugitive quality of adolescence, that roaming fidget and fixed urge to not give a damn.  “Get me the hell outta here,” Lynn mumbles in monotone one day. She’s referring to Muncie. But without much of a plan, the here is more immediate: that day, that week, her house, a dip in her after school plans, her bad mood. Lynn's solution? “Gonna get bombed outta my head."

Although those rarely seen on screen bits are true (and do wonder what would happen if Albert Maysles, Larry Clark and Joey Jeremiah were to toss around a few ideas), Seventeen does enjoy the airier side of high school: the boys, the girls, the feelings, the prom, the epistolary mechanics of it all. In one scene, Lynn, who emerges as one of the Seventeen's main faces, sits in her car with her girlfriend and reads a note from a boy. She’s already read it, chances are more than once, and skips over words feverishly only to jump back and enjoy them for what feels like the first time. As if running her eyes up and down a BINGO card, anticipating a win, she holds the crumpled piece of paper breathlessly. Moments later, dulled by after school boredom, Lynn coolly admits to cheating on him multiple times. She chucks his note on the dashboard and smiles, “I went out on him all the time.” The girls laugh, roll down the windows, turn up the radio, and sing off-tune.

At the championship basketball game, angst fades and the gym’s yellow lights, the pompoms, the players, all burnish the crowd’s faces with what PBS originally had in mind. A row of high school seniors watching their last basketball game is a conceit often used in movies because it’s so easy to pretend the entire world exists in those minutes. Even Lynn lets loose a keenness she would never reveal to her teachers or parents.

Later that week Lynn invites everyone over for a party. Her parents, Jim and Shari, are present but not as chaperones. They drink with her friends, even making breakfast late into the night, drunkenly frying eggs and flipping pancakes. One boy chews on a piece of bacon, catching it before it falls out of his mouth. He can barely stand up. Nearby, an off-duty soldier shares his story about being “15 or 20 miles from the warzone,” as a crowd hangs on his every word. The Four Tops, “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” plays.

The house is chaotic but grows drowsy, and gets at why this, the documentary, is the best way to portray a teenager. Those moments on the weekend when the party starts to die down and boys get hungry and girls are told not to be shy, and unfailingly, someone is trying to revive the affair with music or booze, is specific to that time in life because later on, though the same nights recur over and over, “passing the time” is no longer a valid activity. Even the expression expires.

In the film’s most moving scene, a group gathers in a bedroom listening to the radio. Their friend, Church Mouse, has just died in a car accident and they’ve dedicated a song to him at the local station. “Crank it!” one boy shouts as Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” begins. It plays in its entirety. The lyrics resonate sincerely — a perfect send-off. You realize early on that nobody will cry, and briefly, you half expect the friends to grow up before your very eyes. Never have you seen them so thoughtful at school. As the song fades, so do those sober minutes. Somebody mentions how Church Mouse was buried in his tennis shoes. He pauses and continues, “I wanna be buried face down so the world can kiss my ass.” And just like that, the kids are back. Gloriously so.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She last wrote in these pages about Rachel McAdams. She tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Old Love" - Witness (mp3)

"Twenty Years From Tomorrow" - Witness (mp3)

joel demott

23 May 16:39

Lunchtime Laughter

by Dave

Rod Man on Last Comic Standing

10 Mar 06:53

'Landed' by Ian Strange









'Landed' by Ian Strange

17 May 13:30

...ulf

by ulf
01 Mar 00:09

Skeletons Beneath Our Feet

by Burrito Justice

You may have heard that a skeleton was found at the Transbay Terminal construction site, 60 feet down. “The agency said its archaeologists worked in coordination with the San Francisco coroner’s office and determined that the remains are of Native American descent.” 60 feet down is pretty old, especially when you consider that in the 1840s when Yerba Buena started booming, First Street once bordered the water.

How old? Well, in 1969, construction workers digging out BART found a skeleton 75 feet below Civic Center. Turns out it was nearly 5000 years old.

The top half of the skeleton was lost during construction, but from the remaining half archaeologists determined that it was a 24-26 year old female who may have drowned in a creek. @davely was kind enough to scan an 1972 article from California Geology journal which had this diagram:

1972 BART skeleton bw

I took the liberty of redrawing the diagram in color, and stretching the vertical axis for clarity.

1972 BART skeleton

Archaeologists found both fresh and salt-water plant matter attached to the skeleton, indicating that our friend may have died in a creek or a marsh near the shore. She was found 26 feet below current sea level, which implies that sea level 5000 years ago was around that level.

San Francisco Bay as we know it is relatively new — as the ice age ended, sea levels rose dramatically. 18,000 years ago, to get to the beach you would need to take the N-Judah or the K past the Farallons, which were once hills by the sea. The Bay was a valley with a river running through it, and the Golden Gate was a waterfall.

San Francisco would have been Walnut Creek.

But as the waters rose the Farallons were cut off.

ingram sf sea level rise

map via Late Pleistocene to Holocene History of San Francisco Bay, Prof. Lynn Ingram, UC Berkeley

These once were hills, separated only by sand dunes.

20140304-114536.jpg

Around 10,000 years ago, the sea breeched the Golden Gate and continued to rise rapidly, filling the valley we now know as San Francisco Bay. There must have been settlements by the water — imagine each generation having to pull back, each high tide greater than the last.

In 1818, a Spanish missionary recorded some of the oral traditions of the Ohlone and neighboring tribes. One story went like this:

“What is now the port of San Francisco was formerly according to the tradition of the old ones an oak grove, and without water other than of a river that crossed at its foot, and in evidence of this tradition, they say you still find in the port and marsh, trunks and roots of oak trees.”

However, no known archeological site in central California appears much older than 5,000 years… One way to approach this problem is to assume that traces of the earliest central Californians have been covered by the rising sea. Given the rapidity of changes in sea levels and shorelines 5,000-10,000 years ago, sites of habitation located at that time along the shores of estuaries must now lie beneath mud and tidal water.

He asks:

How old, then, is the aboriginal tradition recorded by Mariano Payeras? If originated by people who actually saw the site of the Bay before widespread submergence, this tradition must be nearly 10,000 years old. Such antiquity, though improbable, cannot be ruled out.

Perhaps one day 10,000 years from now, archaeologists will find and decode flash memory that will reveal this map.

sf island 200 ft vector 600

(Hi future archaeologists! Hope you extended BART and still have burritos.)


03 Feb 15:10

Expectantly planning for the unknown

by Jeff Tiedeken
I look at things sometimes and wonder why I love to over complicate things...?

Other times I wonder why I make things so simple it almost lacks beauty....

Some days its a test of my brain and hands....

Some days its me being lazy or procrastinating....

Either way for some reason it seems to work and I don't ask why....



I needed a vacation because I have been hammering non stop on projects this would be my first vacation since the week before at Autodesk University ! ha really its all work but I love my work....


For my break over Christmas and New Years I decided to help a friend on his newest project.. My buddy Greg Minnaar ( known as the fastest dude on a downhill Mountain bike with a stack of world champs to prove it) has 2 bikes shops now in his home town of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

One of the shop locations a existing bike shop business his parents have run for 20 plus years and the other shop dealing with high end stuff being brand new that just opened up about 4 months ago near the base of the mountain bike world cup track ( perfect location for high end riders)

First class style... AKA using up miles...
I went to London for a day to party then off to South Africa 

The project Greg had me come to South Africa was to add some new style to the new high end shop and make those expensive mountain bikes look fancy and well displayed without making it a pain to access them or causing a risk of them falling over.
Arriving for my first cup of coffee at the new shop... as you can see in the background it was a bit bland
It was opened in a flash because of World Cup races so little was done on displays because it almost didn't even get opened during the race weekend.

The trip was almost a month exactly from mid Decemeber until Mid January and having never seen the shop it was kind of a freestyle mission of what I was going to come up with. I had a slight idea what I wanted to build but it was far from being locked in.

Christmas was cool in South Africa, just like the good old USA they eat a ton of food and wait for the fat dude to slide down the smoke stack and dump presents under some sort of tree.... I didn't feel out of place at the Minnaar family party as well, between the crazy aunt telling stories and everyone drinking beers it wasn't far off from my family.

New Years was really cool and we traveled up the coast towards the north eastern part of South Africa on the boarder of Swaziland, where we stayed for a week on a Rhino Reserve and game park called Hluhluwe. The place blows your mind and seeing how hard it is to protect the animals from poachers and just the day to day life is pretty crazy.

Either heart racing and almost scary to extremely dull.... but nothing really in the middle !
This place the game rangers had built up for themselves and others was so cool...
Perfect place to go hide and just think

Even had a visitor on New Years day!
Good luck !
I can't say I was not enjoying it but 
when you want to get your hand dirty and your far from the shop, 
you start to get a little crazy...

 I hadn't really spent any time at the shop looking at what I was going to build, I had some ideas in my head but I just needed to get back to really get rolling on it. 

People always ask me if I just sit around and dream up ideas.... I wish... I am a person that really needs to have something in front of me and sometimes a problem, if its not there in front of me or I am not dealing with an issue or on a mission my brain thinks theres nothing wrong, anything to do or change

I wish I had that ability to sit and look out in the horizon and dream up things that have never been even thought of with nothing to base them off of... that person is truly a special person and if they have the ability to make those things in their head a reality they are truly a unique creature that is extremely lucky.

Once we returned to the shop after all the holiday fun, it was time to work
about a week left in my trip..
I had some sort of idea to do something using all the fallen trees in the back yard of the shop
So, I just started cutting, my Minnesota heritage came out with my grace on the chainsaw.
I can't say I carved any bears or eagles but I handled doing the cutting.
I started thinking about the style of water pipes because its kinda like welding doing all the fit up and connections but without all the tools that I required, 

This was one of my early prototypes to show Greg's world Champ Santa Cruz bikes.

Some true mountain biking history sitting on those finely chainsawed logs... 
With that idea it was back on the scooter down to the water pipe store called Valverite in Pietermaritzburg and the man John behind the counter... 

If he reads this he will remember the long lost faces I made as I mentally cut and tread the pipes in my head and assembled the in my brain and then as if possessed by demented plummer I yell---

quantity 12 of 240mm threaded both ends 25mm..
quantity 54 threaded 75 mm nipples 
quantity 11 of 2000 threaded both end 32 mm pipe
and on and on as his pen runs out of ink...
Sorry John... we did it but it sucked...

These were the next displays I designed and built
The little aluminum rocker wheel holders I made in the USA and flew with them but didn't know how I was going to use them or where I would use them... I designed the geometry of that rocker for another company to use and found that it works really well so I just made a whole bunch of them at my shop in Oakland before leaving. 
This was using the 32mm water pipe and logs I cut down in the back yard 
The main thing with these displays was to keep the bikes neat and in order but also not to tight that you couldn't really see the high end bikes...
With the main focus on expensive bikes being in the back, the other plus is that the most expensive bike don't get messed with and adding to the risk of damage. 

I did a bunch of displays in different sizes and really focused on the racks and displays for products using the water pipes and flanges with wood. 
Really simple really neat looking...
I can't wait to see once all the other stuff on the walls is all adjusted for the new layout what the shop will look like. 
Over all it went super quick like under a few days to hammer out everything...
Put my first MLS stamp on it that says....


Met some really cool people in South Africa and even got met at the Johannesburg airport during one of my layovers on my return back home, one of them was a dude named Dylan - 4 year MLS blog follower/master mind RC airplane builder/R&D wild man and we burned away some hours drinking beers at the airport and chattin about building. Perfect way to get back on the plane...
 Hammered and lighter due to the unloading of MLS t-shirts on Dylan for himself and his buddies. 

 Greg took this picture because he wanted to make fun of me for taking back scrap from Waynes Scrap metal in South Africa.... "Dude thats a perfectly good cast hand wheel... You don't get it..." 
I not only told him that a few times but also airport security all the way across the world... 


Remember you don't always need to weld to build neat stuff...
You can do it with water pipe !
I can't believe I said that..
I take that back ... ok its pretty neat maybe half credit


 Back to the good old RED WHITE AND BLUE  USA ...
Enjoy... 









31 Jan 16:12

????............Rit

by Arthur Clausse

17 Jan 22:14

Video: The Sounds Of Market Street, Circa 1906

by Andrew Dalton
Video: The Sounds Of Market Street, Circa 1906 Thanks to YouTuber Hardscrabble Pictures, we can now experience the whole 12-minute trip down San Francisco's busiest thoroughfare in glorious hoof-clopping, streetcar-ringing, car-engine rumbling. [ more › ]
    






10 Jan 23:34

Photo



17 Dec 19:20

William Onyeabor – “Atomic Bomb”

by Dave

 

26 Sep 22:20

The Wise Cyclist

unimaginary:

Paul de Vivie (1853 - 1930), nom de plume Vélocio, devised a code for the wise cyclist:

1. Keep your stops short and few.

2. Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty.

3. Never get too tired to eat or sleep.

4. Add a layer before you’re cold, take one off before you’re hot.

5. Lay off wine, meat and tobacco on tour.

6. Ride within yourself, especially in the first hour.

7. Never show off.

11 Sep 14:59

Printables

by Dave

coronado-high

Coronado High by Joshuah Bearman

Before anyone had heard of the Mexican cartels and the Colombian kingpins, there was a group of Cali surfers, friends who discovered weed in the ’60s and—in a fit of stoner inspiration—figured out how to smuggle in the best, most potent stuff on earth. Over a decade, they built an empire that made hundreds of millions, while laughing at the war on drugs. Joshuah Bearman, the writer who brought you ‘Argo,’ tells the whole true story

08 Sep 21:50

Compromised Keylogger-aaS exposes network of Nigerian 419 scammers (krebsonsecurity.com)

01 Sep 08:32

http://www.logcabineer.com/2013/09/blog-post.html

by Logcabineer
04 Sep 10:30

The Provensens’ Gorgeous Vintage Illustrations of Aesop’s Fables

by Maria Popova

Timeless visual exorcism of our greatest moral shortcomings, bridging antiquity and today.

Predating both Arabian Nights and the Grimm fairy tales by centuries, the fables of Aesop, an ancient Greek slave and storyteller who lived between 620 and 560 BCE, endure as some of humanity’s most influential narratives. “He made use of humble incidents to teach great truths,” wrote the Greek philosopher Philostratus of Aesop, and indeed these fables explore the most complex facets of human morality and its failings — deceit, greed, vanity, impatience, egotism, cowardice — through seemingly simple stories featuring animal protagonists. The fables themselves weren’t recorded in writing during Aesop’s lifetime and how exactly they made their way from ancient Greece to world domination remains uncertain. Though the core morality tales have endured over the centuries, the stories have been retold and reimagined over and over, and among the most magical aspects of their constant reinvention has been the art that has accompanied them.

There is hardly a more wonderful, or better-matched, visual take on the tales than that by Alice and Martin Provensen, whose gift for translating history’s greatest storytelling into visual magic spans from Homer to classic fairy tales to William Blake.

In 1965, nearly a decade after their adaptation of the Iliad and Odyssey, they illustrated Louis Untermeyer’s version of Aesop’s Fables (public library) — sadly, another ghost from the cemetery of out-of-print gems, but one summoned back to life here for a new round of admiration and appreciation, thanks to my own surviving copy of the magnificent tome and some generous friends’ large-format scanner. From The Boy Who Cried Wolf to The Fox and the Grapes to The Tortoise and the Hare to The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, these familiar, beloved tales shine with uncommon warmth and wisdom under the Provensens’ vibrant touch and expressive elegance.

Aesop’s Fables is sublime in its entirety, and the few remaining copies still findable online and off are very much worth the scavenger hunt.

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03 Sep 18:19

reyes

by erik
IMG_5262
ferry

IMG_5263

IMG_5265

IMG_5269
met friends camping, rolled to tomales

IMG_5295
26 Aug 04:00

Questions

To whoever typed 'why is arwen dying': GOOD. FUCKING. QUESTION.
22 Aug 01:20

Young Beasties

by Dave

The Beastie Boys on The Scott And Gary Show in 1984

via, boingboing

23 Aug 15:58

The core of Apple’s problem is Tim Cook, Scoble says

by John Koetsier
The core of Apple’s problem is Tim Cook, Scoble says
John Koetsier

Tech evangelist Robert Scoble is a lot of things to a lot of people.

The prolific blogger, tweeter and speaker has over half a million followers on Facebook, is in a massive 4.1 million circles on Google+, and has another 350,000 followers on Twitter. He carries three phones and wears two motion-sensing wristbands. He’s written one book on social media, and is publishing a second on wearable technology and ubiquitous information shortly. He’s the chief Glasshole, a former Microsoftie, and current startup liason officer for Rackspace. He probably meets more startups and founders of companies both giant and tiny than anyone else. His first act of evangelism was to get Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak to donate $40,000 worth of Macs to his college in 1989.

And he’s got a pretty good view of what’s happening to Apple, Google, and the entire mobile industry.

moto x colorsThat mobile industry is currently undergoing massive change.

From slow and ugly beginnings six years ago, Android has risen to surpass Apple’s iPhone and capture 80 percent global market share. Phones have long been won by Android, but Apple’s iPad was recently still the king of the tablets, until iPad’s market share was chopped in half. And while critics argue that the high end of the market — and the only end that matters — is still Apple’s, others are saying that this is just Macs vs PCs all over again.

All of which has led to Apple’s board finally waking up and telling Tim Cook to speed up.

Scoble was once first in line for the Apple iPhone, but he’s now using Moto X and Samsung Android-based smartphones. I met him at the Grow Conference in Vancouver last week and talked to him about tech, Apple, Google, iPhone, Android, and everything in between.

VentureBeat: Global iPhone share is way down. Does iPhone still matter?

Scoble: iPhone is still dramatically important. If I was doing a startup company for mobile, I would still do iPhone first. But even among San Francisco cool kids, Android is growing.

It used to be the case that Apple was the only brand for the tech passionates. Now, partly because of screen sizes, openness, and choice, Android is growing.

Gold iPhone 5S leakBut a lot of people forget about the stores – even me, when I started saying that Apple is going to struggle.  Apple has hundreds of stores around the world that are beautiful, and they have a distribution system, and a staff of 40 or 50 people that will help you.

That’s significant.

As long as Apple stays “up” enough, I think most people won’t switch off of Apple. But there are lots of people in the world who can’t afford Apple. The new Firefox phone is now $30 in Spain, with a  subsidy. I understand why they’re selling.

I happen to be fortunate: I live in San Francisco, and I can afford a $600 phone. Or two of them!

VentureBeat: You’re using Android mostly, but you also have a Nokia. What do you think about Windows Phone?

Scoble: I hate Windows Phone.

I don’t like the utility of it, and there’s no way to change that. They force you to take their look, and you can’t skin it, can’t change it. Right now it’s reminding me about birthdays every day – there’s a lot of ugliness. [Scoble has 5,000 friends -- the maximum -- on Facebook.]

HTC 8XT Windows PhoneMore importantly, it’s Windows and the app ecosystem isn’t there. The cool kids aren’t using it, and until the cool kids start using it, I don’t believe in it. And the app developers don’t put the love into it. The best developers are going to dream about doing something cool and putting it on iPhone because that’s where the money is.

This is what Steve Jobs understood:

Brands are defined not by the best thing on the product, but by the worst thing. He always asked me to look at the back of the product, the back of the iMac, saying ”look at how beautiful the back is.” Very few people understand that you’re defined by the thing that you can’t see.

Android’s not there either – sometimes I try to make a call and it just doesn’t work. I can’t get my wife off of iPhone: iPhone works … it’s clean and it’s beautiful and it doesn’t bite you.

For me it’s not as exciting or innovative on the top end, but the bottom end is higher.

Microsoft has 16 billion-dollar businesses. When you think about that, it’s mind-blowing, right? But they’re boring! Now the iPhone team alone is bigger than Microsoft, and Windows Phone has four percent market share.

How the world has changed!

VentureBeat: Apple CEO Tim Cook has started to take some heat recently. Talk to me about that.

Scoble: I think he has two problems.

First, let’s be honest, Steve Jobs pushed that company hard. Really hard.

Tim Cook gives the thumbs up at D11
Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat

Tim Cook gives the thumbs up at D11

My next-door neighbor was on the first iPhone team, and he told me he almost killed himself working for Steve Jobs because he demands so much from you. He did not take substandard performance, and he would keep you up, and he would call you on a Sunday when you’re having family time … and essentially randomize your whole life.

And he was ‘god,’ and when he did that, it was ‘god’ calling!

So having the company relax a bit and sort of cruise after that’s gone is sort of understandable. Now you have to get the company back in hard core mode, but some of the talent has left. They’re starting up a startup, or left for Flipboard, or working for Facebook. They’ve lost some of their intellectual capital and they have to replace that and go out and recruit the new hottest kids.

But the second issue is Tim.

Tim just doesn’t hit me as a guy who’s excited about the future. (Ballmer is the same way, or even worse.) For Tim Cook … I just don’t know that he’d be talking to me about Google Glass and excited by that, if he wasn’t at Apple.

He just doesn’t come across like he’s a product guy who’s trying to cut through the forest in a new way.

Steve had that innate sense of what would make an interesting product, and even when he bashed something … like he would say nobody is going to watch a video on an iPhone, he did it in a way that made you feel like he’s sort of right, the screen sort of does suck, and the battery life sort of does suck, but I do want to watch on my iPhone, and I could see how he could fix that.

He still kept your belief that he knew where the future was going. Tim hasn’t yet had that connection, that sense.

To be fair to Tim, he hasn’t built the Apple II and Pixar and Next. He’s a supply chain guy who built an organizational dynamic.

But he needs to change that belief in us, that he can be the guy who can discern where the future’s going.

VentureBeat: Can he be that guy?

Scoble: I don’t think so. I don’t think people can be taught in a year or two to be that guy.

Sergey Brin wearing Google GlassThe next question is, is there someone inside Apple who can be that guy or girl? Someone who can become the product person that we have that relationship with that we see as running Apple and bringing that innovation out.

There are a few people there who are candidates, but we haven’t seen that engine kick over.

I’ve had lunch with Google cofounders Larry and Sergey, and they talk about products, and they make me believe they really understand – and they care, and they understand where the future’s going.

For example, they can have a really long argument about what we just got put on our wrist [a sleep and energy monitoring health bracelet]. Is that going to be successful? They could have a real in-depth conversation about the future, but Tim just doesn’t come across like he’s all that futuristic. So it makes the company boring.

VentureBeat: What does that mean for Apple?

Scoble: The thing that we’re bitching about is: Is Apple Apple, or is Apple Microsoft?

It’s OK, I guess, to be a Microsoft and to be a highly-profitable money-generating machine … but it’s not what Apple is. We grew up seeing Apple doing something new and different.

Let’s put it this way: Tim is going to run one of the most important companies ever. I don’t see how he’s going to lose profits or even market share that much.

But Woz and Jobs introduced a new product to the world — sort of like this Google Glass — and made it work, and made an ecosystem and a new business happen that no one else saw, and we miss that in Apple. We want Apple to see a new product that’s not obvious and keep surprising us, and keep coming out every three or four or five years and really doing something like ‘whoa, I didn’t expect that … and I want it.’

VentureBeat: What about iWatch?

An iWatch prototype

An iWatch prototype

Scoble: Now even “normal” people are wearing more devices like Nike’s Fuelband, Fitbits, or Jawbone Up. It’s now acceptable in the normal world to wear something smart on your wrist.

Soon, Apple’s coming out with iWatch, apparently.

Even if it’s next year, it’s going to be geek jewelry, and normal people are going to want it because it’s probably going to be very beautiful looking, and it will be a new thing to show off, and I now have a new display for my mobile phone.

It probably will have a sensor to study how active you are, and play some health games with you — or a new kind of wrist-action Angry Birds or something [laughing] … maybe a little Ping Pong game. If you have a display that goes all the way around your wrist and you have a 3-axis sensor, you can think about all sorts of new little video games you can put on there.

Pebble’s doing some of the R&D in this space, but let’s be honest, Apple has a brand and distribution and the best supply chain in the world.

VentureBeat: Apple is taking a long time to come out with new iPhone models, cheaper models. Why?

Scoble: Steve put some DNA into that company.

He liked to keep the number of products down. It’s easy to explain, and it’s clean, and it’s beautiful. When you go to the Apple store and they announce a new model, there’s one phone, and one poster on the wall, and one line, and you don’t have to think about do I get this phone or that phone [laughing].

Meanwhile, on Android you have to think about it. Do I want one with this screen, or that screen, a super-big screen, a huge camera, do I want this brand, do I want LTE? There are so many choices.

Google Glass
Jolie O'Dell/VentureBeat

Google Glass

VentureBeat: You’re wearing Google Glass, you curate news for Glassholes. What do you think is the future of Glass?

Scoble: Google Glass has 600,000 times more computing power than the Apollo missions. Now it’s 39 grams and on my face! In other words, you have a Cray supercomputer on your face, and it will cost $300.

This is the first consumer device that knows where I’m looking and where I’m aiming, and also the first that you’re forced to talk to because it has no real keyboard, no real touchscreen. It’s a very interesting product, and all the sensors are fully on, all the time. People at Google are starting to wear them with custom Warby Parker frames, the women are starting to wear them with cool-looking feminine frames, not these masculine ones.

I’m pretty excited about where Google’s going – I think it will be a product that will stand up for decades as the launch of a new genre.

It’s an Apple II — a product that takes us to a new place. And we thought Apple had a lock on that kind of innovation! It turns out that’s not true – they’re playing defense, and I’ve moved my world over to Google.

I was first in line for the iPhone, but I’m not a fanboy of any company — I’m in favor of anything that’s best of breed.

Right now, this is best of breed.


Filed under: Business, Gadgets, Mobile
    






23 Aug 17:29

Pictures: Looters Shatter Museum of Ancient Egyptian Treasures

by

Photograph by Roger Anis, El Shorouk/AP

 

Amid the deadly chaos sweeping across Egypt, looters ransacked the archaeological museum in the town of Mallawi last week.
20 Aug 18:15

What the Inside of an International Space Station’s Toolbox Looks Like

by Kimber Streams

ISS Toolbox

British astronaut Tim Peake — who will be going to the International Space Station in 2015 on Expedition 46 — recently posted photos of a toolbox and is contents that will be taken aboard the ISS.

ISS Toolbox

ISS Toolbox

ISS Toolbox

ISS Toolbox

images via Tim Peake

via reddit, Blame it on the Voices

10 Aug 09:32

The History of the "Boo-Dah-Ling" Sound

The History of the "Boo-Dah-Ling" Sound:

Time goes by, and this sound becomes iconic, showing up in TV shows and movies, and becoming international short-hand for “you have a text message”…
01 Aug 11:01

Dungeon Guide for Administrative Assistant Quest by David A. Banks

This quest begins when Your Superior walks up to your desk anytime between 4:30 and 5:01 pm. He will ask you to print out eleven reports double-sided black and white, bind them in three-ring binders that have “those transparent slide-y things on the cover” and print out color cover sheets on card stock paper. There’s a timer on this quest. You’ll need to finish this by 2:45 pm the next day. AlI characters will tell you different times so you should record this in your Quest Journal for later reference.

Begin the quest by printing out the reports using the second-to-last version that was emailed to you last Wednesday. Using the latest version results in having to reprint pages 7 and 8 for all of the reports and you will be unable to complete the quest in time unless you have the Amulet of Convincing Computer Crashes. (If you have this equipped, use it when Your Superior incorrectly claims that the meeting starts at 2 pm.)

Once you have the reports printed, you’ll need to access the three-ring binders. Unlike previous quests, which directed you to Storage Closet 3, you will need to access the locked Meeting Room Storage Closet A. Go to Human Resources and ask Sherryl first. She will tell you that she has the key to the meeting room but not the storage closet. Accept the offer to get the key to the meeting room and head back to the meeting room.

Once in the meeting room, try to open Storage Closet A just as Lawrence walks by. He will notice that you are trying to get into the closet and open it for you. If you take the red three-ring binders you will activate the Avoid ‘Office Supplies Missing’ Meeting side quest. The blue three-ring binders will give you +2 to Synergy and the black ones will give you +2 to Self-Direction. Choose whichever you are missing from your résumé.

Go back to your desk and put the three-ring binders in a desk drawer, otherwise Dave will steal one. When you attempt to print the color cover sheets you’ll be presented with 25 arcane printer names. Only one printer, Fujitsiu Photocopier 3 (not hooked up to print via CUPS), has the card stock you need. You will have to solve the printer naming code puzzle in order to choose the correct printer with the card stock. Three wrong tries will result in getting a memo from IT and your printing access will be revoked.

The correct printer name is derived from the formula PRINTER BRAND/INK OPTIONS/OFFICE SECTION NUMBER/NAME OF PERSON THAT SET UP THE PRINTER – YEAR THEIR FAVORITE BASEBALL TEAM WON THE WORLD SERIES. You can find the office section number and the names of the various IT people that set up the printers on the wall of the server room in the basement. You should have found this in the Help Boss Use Outlook side quest.

If you are printing on the first day of the quest use FUJ-COL-3/KEVIN-93. If you’re printing on the day that it is due, the copier will be out of order and you will have to print to your default printer and then walk all the way over to Fujitsiu Photocopier 3 and make a color copy on the correct paper stock.

Once you’ve completed the printing, you have to find the New Three-Hole Punch that used to be near the copy station. Go ask Anne if she saw who took it. She will tell you it is not her job to babysit the office supplies. At this point you have three dialogue options. If you reply with “EAT SHIT ANNE, I’VE HAD A LONG DAY,” she will reveal a secret three-hole punch but you’ll be required to pay an extra $30 for an expensive lunch during the Requisite Working Lunch Meeting quest. Selecting “Oh, okay, sorry.” and then talking to Jordan two desks down will reveal the hole-punch. Selecting “I’m sorry, I just thought you’d be a decent human being and help me out” will cause the break room to run out of K-cups during the boss fight.

(Note: Anne is susceptible to pleading attacks. If you cast level 6 ignorance she will usually give you a hint for the quest, but this will reduce future dialogue options unless you have the Cloak of Small Talk.)

Return the key to Sherryl by placing it on her desk while she’s at lunch. Otherwise, she will ask what you are doing this weekend and you will have to play the Weekend Work Social Obligations side quest which will cost you $60 and force you to attend a baby shower on a Saturday morning. (This will decrease your charisma by 3.)

Play the Assemble the Reports mini-game. If you get more than 5 paper cuts you will bleed on the reports, lose the game and have to start over. Complete the mini-game by 2:45 and bring the reports to Conference Room A. There you will find Your Superior who will tell you that the meeting has moved upstairs to Conference Room C but no one knows the room has changed. Make two signs for the room change and make sure to put the second one on the back door that attaches to the administrative office suite or The Boss will blame you for missing the meeting.

After making the signs bring the reports to Conference Room C. Make sure to avoid Dave by walking by his desk while he’s looking at porn. If Dave catches you he will shoot you with a Nerf gun and your wisdom will drop by 2 points for the next half hour, raising your probability of repeating what someone else has already said in the meeting. When you get to Conference Room C sit in one of the seats along the wall. If you downloaded the Zynga DLC you can play Words With Friends while the meeting takes place.

Once the meeting is over Your Superior will reward you with Mild Appreciation and a Rush Job, which will give you immunity against four of Dave’s ‘Workaholics Impression’ Attack.

26 Jul 07:01

Dirty Words: The Naked Truth About Marla Streb

by Sal Ruibal

Marla Streb: scientist, classical pianist, downhill racer, cross-country racer, all-around bad ass and now...in the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame.

By Sal Ruibal

One of the great things about mountain biking is that you can talk about the “good ol’ old days” and they happened just a few years ago. The hardtail mountain bike is a time machine that’s stuck on 1991. The dinosaurs still walk among us.

The men and women who first discovered that fire could weld metal tubes into a gizmo that would take you to places both physical and metaphysical might live down your street, if you live in Santa Rosa or Marin. I can go to East Coast races and see Gunnar Shogren and wife Betsy still ripping away wins from kids just out of college.

Beneath all of that is the ethos of constant progression. Who would have thought that 26-inch wheels would be extinct before Ned Overend?

But I come not to praise the past, but to honor the present. Today’s present was seeing an email from the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame that said my friend Marla Streb was selected to the 2014 Hall of Fame. Marla has won races that go up, races that go down, races that get lost in jungles and emerge on the gritty streets of Baltimore.

Kids can tell her kids that, “Yo Mamma manuals like a monkey on marshmallows.” I’ve seen Marla Streb get hit by a car, roll over onto the street, change the bent wheel and proceed to ride into my local woods and come out 20 minutes later with 30 people I’ve never met riding behind her.

Yes, she has a closet full of medals and championship jerseys and yadda-yadda-yadda.

This photo originally appeared in Outside Magazine. A whole lot of people bought that issue. That kind of explains itself...

Every year there is a new champion, but every year Marla is somewhere, somehow showing somebody how to ride a bike. She sailed to Costa Rica to show the Ticos how to build trails in the jungle for a mountain bike resort that will bring gringo dollars to their towns.

The craziest thing she ever did (that I know of) was to pose buck naked for a Yeti poster. Crazy like a foxy fox. I have a lot of bike posters, medals and memorabilia in my basement bike room, but the first thing anyone notices is the huge photo of a gorgeous woman with an amazing, athletic body flying on a mountain bike.

Who wouldn’t want to ride with her?

Cross-country racing has gone stale. A bunch of skinny euros Frooming around on three-pound 29ers with 45 psi of helium in their tires.

Mountain biking needs more Marlas. Marla was freeriding when she thought she was just riding back to the house. She rides downhill like it was flat and like flat when it is uphill. She’s a scientist (not like that meth lab guy) and a classical pianist.

So let me rejoice in the fact that my friend Marla is now a neighbor in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Come up and see our two-dimensional selves in Crested Butte some time. She’ll be the naked one.