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There is No Such Thing as Not Voting

David Foster Wallace

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some diehard’s vote.”

— David Foster Wallace

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Free to Believe Anything

Cognitive Bias

When I was growing up, when you read the paper, watched the news, saw a film or a picture, you inherently believed in it. You trusted the reality it portrayed. You trusted in journalism and even believed the news was actually “fair and balanced”. Then technology destroyed the business model of traditional journalism. The news institutions of the 20th century, print newspapers, the evening broadcast news, the trusted anchorman, are but relics of the past.

We turned to the Internet, but then we all learned the hard way that we can’t trust the Internet. We no longer know what is real and what is fake. With everything now digital, and with excellent tools to edit audio, video, and photos, we have become skeptics. As soon as we see a viral video on YouTube we immediately say to ourselves “that’s fake”. Every magazine with a beautiful girl on the cover we think to ourselves “Photoshop”. When we read a blog post we think “spin”.

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Microsoft Surface Studio is Mindblowing

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Saw the new Microsoft Surface Studio this weekend at the Microsoft store at the South Coast Plaza. I thought the display is pretty mind blowing. I have gotten used to wide screen displays but somehow the resolution and format of the screen just feels right. The display floats in space and fills your field of vision.

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Proprietary Software is an Unsafe Building Material

Volkswagen

At one point in time I worked for an organization that banned the use of open source software. They were concerned that in the event of issues “there would be no support”. At the time they believed that commercial software from companies like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and SAP was “safer” because there was a commercial entity that stood behind the products they sold and provided support.

Now that’s changing

Most technology leadership today recognizes that proprietary software is not safer than open source software. Basic metrics around the number of disclosed vulnerabilities and “time to patch availability” seem to give an edge to open source software at least being patched faster. Not only that but you have the option to inspect the code yourself, and patch it yourself - options that are simply not available with commercial, closed software. This causes a re-evaluation of the relationship of proprietary, commercial software to operating a safe and secure business. The recent Volkswagen scandal brings to light the broader question of how vulnerable we are to software that is beyond oversight. Today when we have software running critical systems like medical devices, transportation systems, elevators, and cars we are realizing this code must be open to inspection. This does not mean the code must be open source - only that the code must be available for inspection and oversight.

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