So what is the balance we should seek between security and freedom? In my
mind, it begins with better technology for law enforcement. The fact that the
FBI last year scrapped and wrote off its brand-new, $150 million computer system
as a failure is a good indication that something is awry with IT for law enforcement.
It also begins with more education and training for law enforcement officers at every level. If the criminals are trading horses for automobiles, so should our peace officers. Same with computer systems and the Internet.
And it ends precisely at the point where the needs of law enforcement conflict with the Fourth Amendment.
A compendium of ideas, products, rants and raves from the viewpoint of the author. Not that the author has no financial interests in any of the products mentioned. Feel free to disagree, or to share your ideas by sending them to email@example.com.
Internet Site of the Month: Internet Explorer 9. (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/products/ie-9/home). If you have not yet upgraded to this new version, now is the time — even if it is still in beta. The version offered here is stable, interesting, faster and better … and will be automatically updated when the final version is released.
Internet Explorer 9. Microsoft is in the process of releasing this most recent version of its popular browser, designed to be the fastest and easiest browser to date. It offers support for the new HTML5 language, which enhances security because of the ability to turn off Active-X support — long the source of hacks of the browser.
Phony Broadband Use Rates. According to the U.S. government, use of broadband grew by a whopping 5 percent last year — a near-miraculous feat in a year of galloping recession. How did this happen? Well, mostly by fudging the numbers. By including the decidedly not high-speed mobile phone data use in the mix, they are able to show growth when virtually none occurred. Broadband over a cell phone is still not of sufficient speed or quality to make a meaningful browsing experience, and the data should not be mixed.
Watson’s Win On Jeopardy. So a computer wins over a human at answering questions on Jeopardy … what did you expect? Answering trivia questions is really not much of an achievement, even with the bells and whistles of adapting to a human interface. It was fun to watch, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Now show me a computer that appreciates a sunset, and I’ll be impressed.
High-Tech Toilets. The Japanese are different from Americans, if in no other way than their love of high-tech gadgets in the toilet. Their toilet bowls include such features as ion-odor control sprays, remote controls, music, and video games you can play with your urine! Last year a musical tribute to clean toilets hit the Japanese best-seller lists. Sigh! There are some tech trends I can live without experiencing.
Gaming consoles. I love video games on the PC. Doom, Quake, Halo and Duke Nuke’m are all favorites, though I don’t have the time I once did to indulge in them. Game consoles have been of lesser interest, due to the additional cost of both the equipment and games. That’s changing, though, as the Wii, X-Box and Play Station evolve out of mere gaming and into the realms of Internet browsing and movie downloads. I’m not yet ready to shell out the better part of $500 for one, but I am thinking about it.