The NSA surveillance scandal and the passing of hacker Barnaby Jack are both reminders that the label "geek" has been hijacked by vast dull herds of consumer wannabes.
The Full Tilt
Stilgherrian delivers an undiluted dose of criticism and analysis of the ways digital technology is changing our world and the spin that goes with it. Mostly in words -- sometimes in audio or video formats -- always cynical. Incorporating the Patch Monday podcast.
Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.
As brokers of reliable information about the scale of online crime and espionage, most information security vendors would make great used car salesmen. McAfee's latest research finally takes the right path.
Did Microsoft's "reasonable assistance" go too far, becoming an NSA branch office and betraying their customers? What about other service providers?
Can risk-averse government agencies and a tendency to fall for the sunk cost fallacy ever deliver forward-looking applications?
Whether it's the Coalition's Malcolm Turnbull or Labor's candidate, any future communications minister faces the same long-term issues — and geek lobbyists must learn to deploy better skills.
The attorney-general doesn't know what 'online' means. His opposite number is a parrot. When it comes to Australian citizens' online rights, you can forget about meaningful debate.
Why do we trust Google, Facebook, and other commercial operations to compile vast amounts of personal data, yet fear the NSA doing the same?
If you want your online business to stay in business, or even to stay online, build your own infrastructure — because Australian law enforcement trashes shared hosting like it's a crack house.
There's little public trust in the government's push for more online surveillance and broader powers for its spooks. Perhaps it's time for more openness, less hypocrisy.
'Disruption' is a good thing? No: Next time you hear some Kool-Aid-sculling startup genius boast that they're 'disruptive', punch them really hard. Smashing things at random is not progress.