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Technology

Zoom – From A Simple Business Communicator to a World Connector

Zoom wasn’t meant to become a consumer-grade product. It has been in the enterprise space since 2011 and until this pandemic most people have never heard of it. The monthly active users have gone from about 7 million to more than 200 million by some accounts. Because of this the company is under a microscope and it has a lot of fixing to do.

One of which is their messaging about how secure it is, as of right now. According to the website The Intercept zoom isn’t end-to-end encrypted.

The researchers [from the University of Toronto] … found that Zoom protects video and audio content using a home-grown encryption scheme, that there is a vulnerability in Zoom’s “waiting room” feature, and that Zoom appears to have at least 700 employees in China spread across three subsidiaries. They conclude, in a report for the university’s Citizen Lab — widely followed in information security circles — that Zoom’s service is “not suited for secrets” and that it may be legally obligated to disclose encryption keys to Chinese authorities and “responsive to pressure” from them.

The Intercept

The second part is even more concerning. The fact that there is a link back to the Chinese government means you should absolutely not talk about secrets of any type on Zoom.

Zoom has responded:

In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began. In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect. We have since corrected this, and would like to use this blog post to explain how our system typically works, where our misstep occurred, and how we will prevent these kinds of problems in the future. We have also been working on improving our encryption and will be working with experts to ensure we are following best practices.

We appreciate the questions we are getting, and continue to work actively to address issues as we identify them. As video communications become more mainstream, users deserve to better understand how all these services work, including how the industry — Zoom and its peers — manages operations and provides services in China and around the world.

Zoom Blog

Now, I’m not saying to stop using Zoom. What I am saying is be aware of its limitations.

Also lock it down.

Lately there has been a rash of Zoom Bombings, which is when bad actors invade public and private unprotected Zoom rooms and show/share/say nasty stuff. Zoom has released a blog post on what you need to do to protect your Zoom calls. Everyone should follow every point to the best of their ability.

At first the settings page for Zoom can be quite daunting, but if you take the time to secure your room right, you’ll have a much better experience.

In the end, is the Zoom platform perfect? No, not in the least. They are taking strides to make it more secure and robust for everyone to use. It’s on us, the public, to make sure we take our own security to heart and make it a top responsibility.

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Technology

A Proprietary CMS Isn’t Necessarily The Way To Go

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There are lots of content management systems. Some charge a small fortune to use their products, they are proprietary and almost always closed source (ie. Adobe Experience Manager, Microsoft Sharepoint, and Salesforce’s CMS to name a few). Proprietary CMS companies sell their enterprise clients on functionality, which is often overkill for much of the company’s needs. Many times there is a better option than paying enormous sums for a closed CMS platform. One of these alternatives is WordPress. WordPress powers more than 35% of the web and is utilized by some big named sites: New York Observer, New York...

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Technology

Digital Disruption Hurts Democracy

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In a recent study by the Pew Research Center for Internet and Technology, authors Janna Anderson and Lee Raine found that many tech experts feel that the growth of the digital world and disruption of digital will hurt detrimental democracy. About half predict that humans’ use of technology will weaken democracy between now and 2030 due to the speed and scope of reality distortion, the decline of journalism and the impact of surveillance capitalism. A third expect technology to strengthen democracy as reformers find ways to fight back against info-warriors and chaos. This is obviously very concerning. The decline...

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Technology

Is Jack Dorsey’s Job At Twitter In Jeopardy?

“Activist” Investor Elliott Management has bought more than $1 billion of Twitter stock and is now going after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to leave the company.

Dorsey, the CEO of two publicly traded companies, Twitter and Square, is a big target since he splits his time between the two companies.

Peter Kafka writes in his think piece in Recode:

[Elliott Management] wants Dorsey to stop running Twitter — or, at the very least, stop running both companies at the same time. And unlike other people who complain about Twitter, these guys might actually be able to do something about it.

Here’s the deal: Elliott Management, an “activist investor” firm, has bought a lot of Twitter shares and wants to replace Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. It thinks pushing out Dorsey will make Wall Street value Twitter more favorably, which would make the value of Elliott’s Twitter shares rise.

Elliott has acquired about $1 billion worth of Twitter shares, which means it has a sizable stake in Twitter, but nothing close to control of the company. Now, the firm wants to use that stake to replace four Twitter board members with its own nominees, who would then presumably pressure Dorsey to leave — or at least stop running Square, the payments company he founded after he first left Twitter.

Elliott Management has said they think Twitter’s shares should be worth more than they are today. They seem to place blame in many facets of the company, but ultimately the buck stops with Dorsey.

What concerns me is that the head of Elliott Management, billionaire Paul Singer, is a major Republican donor. With this comes theories that the firm wants to change the landscape of Twitter to make it more conservative friendly. Though Kafka writes in his piece that this isn’t the case:

Highly recommended reading: This 2018 New Yorker profile of Singer and Elliott, which should help shoot down facile theories — which you can find on Twitter — about Singer, a prominent Republican donor, going after Twitter for political reasons. Singer and his team are motivated by money above all else. They also don’t want to “buy Twitter.” They want the value of the Twitter shares they bought to increase.

It seems as though this investment from Elliott Management is clearly business related and not politically motivated. As Kafka writes:

Elliott doesn’t seem focused so much on ousting an eccentric CEO but, more generally, on boosting Twitter’s stock price.

So we as a user base of this technology need to remember, we are only renting space on these platforms. We don’t own our profiles or what we post. We are at the mercy of the markets, especially when the company we’re investing our time in is publicly traded.

I always suggest to not put all your “eggs in one basket.” Setup a blog, post there first then share on Twitter and the other social networks.

What do you think of this investment by Elliott Management in Twitter? Is Jack Dorsey a dead duck?

“Jack Dorsey” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

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Technology

Revisiting Section 230

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Big tech has gotten so big it’s drawing the ire of governments across the globe. Here in the United States the Department of Justice is looking into revising Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act so that companies are not immune to what their users do on their platforms. Now we need to keep in mind that if it wasn’t for Section 230, the Internet as we know it wouldn’t be anything like it is now. It enables companies to build out innovative platforms without fear of being sued out of existence. A Bit Of A History Lesson...

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Technology

Covid 19, Tech, And The Global Economy

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A massive virus takes hold of one of the most populous countries in the world. More than 1800 people have died so far and the death count continues to rise. There are more than 70,000 reported cases in China alone.  This sounds like the start of a bestselling thriller on bookshelves of bookstores everywhere. But it’s not, it’s reality. A reality happening right now with Covid 19 (aka. the Coronavirus) with the epicenter in Wuhan, China. Covid 19 Enter Stage Left Covid 19 isn’t just scary because of the havoc it's causing to people in China and across the...

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Technology

Do We Really Want Our IOT Devices Always Listening?

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I’ll admit I like the idea of having a smart device with a speaker available to play music or search the web for something when my hands are covered in raw chicken while I'm cooking dinner. But the idea of these devices always listening for context to help me, before I ask, kind of scares me. Stacey Higginbotham, who is the expert of all things internet of things, wrote in her latest newsletter about this very topic. She writes: Take a moment to listen to the world around you. Maybe you are listening to a podcast or the sounds...

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News Pay Walls

Update 2/6/2020

It’s not lost on me that I’m now producing my content behind a paywall. My goal is to provide content for those who want to support me as well as the masses. I hope my endeavors will be considered like the Times and the Post and not like the WSJ and the FT. As always, I encourage your comments.


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

With the state of journalism in flux. Many news organizations have taken to the paywall as a solution to garner subscribers from their readership.

Many of these papers do it quite well. The New York Times and the Washington Post to name just two of them. Some do it terribly — The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. These last two don’t let you read without subscribing.

The Hybrid Model

Some online publications, like Business Insider and TechCrunch have a hybrid model, which seems to be working. They release quite a bit of of stories for free, but put the deeper, more in-depth articles behind premium memberships. This make sense. The more in depth, the better the content “should” be. And therefore should be put at a premium.

Missing The Point

What I’ve noticed is that some outlets are just missing the point of letting some of their content out for free.

Digiday and Wired are two great examples. These two, and I know there are a lot more out there, give readers a certain number of articles a month to read before subscribing. Then they block them from reading anymore without a subscription. This in my opinion misses the boat completely. Why punish the reader for wanting to read your content?

In the case of Digiday. I went so far as to unsubscribe from their newsletter. I did this for two reasons. One, because of how they approached asking me to subscribe. At no point did they make it clear that I had a limited number of “free” articles to read. Second their subscription price was way too high for what I needed from them. I liked the content they were putting out, but the price point was just way to high. Also with subscriptions galore, they making the cut for me. In the case of Wired, they have a low price point to subscribe and well, guess what? I did exactly that.

Another thing that irked me about Digiday as they were trying both the limited articles model and the premium content model. Some content was always behind a wall for premium subscribers. That made sense until they limited access to the “free content.”

I don’t know what the solution is, but I feel like there’s got to be subscription fatigue out there. Everything is a subscription now-a-days. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But there are good ways of doing it, bad ways of doing it, and ugly ways of doing it.

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Technology

When Shit Breaks

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When shit online breaks… it can REALLY break. In the end, It's how you deal with it that matters. Communication is key, regardless of how big and important the person/company is you're dealing with. With lots of companies running on third party servers like Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google, they are at the mercy of outages that are sometimes out of their control. With this in mind they should have a few things in place to alert their customers of such issues: A status of service pageA email alert system in placeA team that watches social media for...

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Automation

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I have been in the technology sector for more than 15 years. First as a professional journalist covering technology for traditional newspapers (remember them?), and then as a digital marketer, web designer, and creative director. Throughout these years, I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in technology. Now I want to share my knowledge with you. As of right now, this newsletter will be monthly. If news breaks and needs coverage, you will get a bonus issue. Don’t worry, you will still receive the monthly News You Can Use newsletter as well. Thank you for...

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