FUD

Monday Morning: First, Same as the Last

Hear that sound? Like so many sighs of resignation? Yup, it’s the first Monday of the new year, and with it, a plethora of shiny resolutions slowly breached and broken like WiFi-enabled toys.

One of my 2016 resolutions (which I hope will last more than a week) is a morning update here at emptywheel. Won’t be hot-urgent-newsy, just stuff worth scanning while you have a cup of joe. Let’s see if I can stick it out five days — then I’ll try another benchmark.

Droning on
Did you get or give a drone as a gift this holiday season? Better make sure it’s registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Twitter to bring back Politwoops
Among the stupid moves Twitter made last year was the decision to shut out Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops platform. The tool archived politicians’ embarrassing tweets even if the tweets had been deleted. With the general election season now in full swing, voters need more accountability of candidates and elected officials, not less. Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation negotiated with Twitter to restore the tool. Let’s hope it’s up and running well before the first caucuses — and let’s hope Twitter gets a grip on its business model, pronto.

You’d think by now Twitter would have figured out politicians’ tweeted gaffes are gasoline to their social media platform growth…

Microsoft spreads FUD about…Microsoft?
If you’re an oldster IT person like me, you recall the Halloween memo scandal of 1998, documenting Microsoft’s practice of promulgating fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about competing operating systems in order to gain and control Windows market share. For more than a decade, Microsoft relied on FUD to ensure near-ubiquity of Windows and Word software products. Now Microsoft is using FUD not to prevent customers from using other products, but to encourage migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10, to reduce possible state-sponsored attacks on Win 7 systems.

Personally, I think Microsoft has already been ridiculously ham-handed in its push for Win 10 upgrades before this latest FUD. If you are a Win 7 or Win 8 user, you’ve already seen attempts to migrate users embedded in recent security patches (read: crapware). I’ve had enough FUD for a lifetime — I’m already running open source operating systems Linux and Android on most of my devices. I would kill for an Android desktop or laptop (yoohoo, hint-hint, Android developers…).

And don’t even start with the “Buy Apple” routine. Given the large number of vulnerabilities, it’s only a matter of time before Mac OS and iOS attract the same level of attention from hackers as Windows. I’ll hold my AAPL stock as long as you insist on “Buy Apple,” however.

Consumer Electronics Show 2016 — now with biometric brassieres
CES 2016 opens this week in Las Vegas, and all I can think is: Are you fucking kidding me with this fresh Internet of Things stupidity? A biometric bra? What idiot dreamed this up?

Why not biometric jockstraps? I can only imagine the first response to biometric jockstraps: “No EMF radiation near my ‘nads!” Yeah, well the same thing applies to breasts. Didn’t anybody get the memo last year that 217 scientists have expressed concerns about EMF’s potential impact on human health, based on +2,000 peer-reviewed articles?

Or are businesses ignoring this science the same way petrochemical businesses have ignored climate change science?

Phew. There it is, the first checkmark of my 2016 resolutions. Happy first Monday to you. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Do tell.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt: the Real Cyber Attack on the Truth [UPDATE]

[photo: cdrummbks via Flickr]

[UPDATE – see end of article.]

One weaselly senator–with long-identified agendas and a pathetically thin understanding of technology–takes to the microphone. Suddenly, by virtue of wrapping his senatorial lips around a few scary words on topics about which he knows little, we citizens are supposed to quake in fear and plead for salvation.

Screw that noise. This is textbook  “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” — more commonly referred to as FUD in the information technology industry.

Since the 1970s, FUD tactics have used to suppress competition in the computer marketplace, targeting both hardware and software. Roger Irwin explained,

…It is a marketing technique used when a competitor launches a product that is both better than yours and costs less, i.e. your product is no longer competitive. Unable to respond with hard facts, scare-mongering is used via ‘gossip channels’ to cast a shadow of doubt over the competitors offerings and make people think twice before using it.In general it is used by companies with a large market share, and the overall message is ‘Hey, it could be risky going down that road, stick with us and you are with the crowd. Our next soon-to-be-released version will be better than that anyway’. …

FUD has non-technology applications as well; one need only look at product and service brands that encourage doubts about using any product other than their own, in lieu of actually promoting the advantages their product or service might have.

So what’s the FUD about? Senator Joe Lieberman spouted off about cyber attacks in September last year, claiming Iran was behind disruptive efforts targeting U.S. banks.

Right. Uh-huh. Predictable, yes?

But FUD is used in situations where there is competition, one might point out. Yes, exactly; in September 2012, the case for support of unilateral attacks against Iran was up against the news cycle crush, powered by the post-Benghazi fallout and the drive toward the November general election, followed by the terror that was the “fiscal cliff.” That’s a lot of powerful, compelling competition for both attention, votes, and tax dollars, when members of a reliable but lame duck Congress could be mounting up a pre-emptive cyber war without the headwind of public awareness and resistance, or the too-inquisitive pushback from newbies in the next seated Congress. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @HeidiOBrien8 I bet exactly the opposite.
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bmaz @VBalasubramani @trabernlaw You guys have all the fun!
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emptywheel RT @thegrugq: This is a massive clusterfuck of a terrorist network. This is what happens w/o professionals, or effective hierarchy https://…
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emptywheel @Realharampolice I'm a lit PhD who always believed imperfect works were the best, so I'll take it.
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emptywheel @msbellows Hope it works out. Can't be easy.
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emptywheel @Realharampolice If there's a lot of new beautiful music I don't much care what else is in the vault.
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emptywheel @Realharampolice Beautiful music?
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JimWhiteGNV RT @GatorsSB: T6: @AmandaLorenz18 records her first-career GRAND SLAM! UF leads TAMU, 14-3. #Wow #GoGators https://t.co/IZIEm1OZo2
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JimWhiteGNV RT @GatorsBB: That feeling when you hit two bombs in the ninth to win 5-4... #Gators 💣💣 https://t.co/oB60aC1OQj
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bmaz Urgh. That said, hard to see how Osweiller has not already shown up Nick Foles. #GoDevils! https://t.co/wFjXOJi3kl
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bmaz @dpottzzz Errr, just know which school will always dominate AZ collegiate football. It is written (as, apparently, basketball now is).
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