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The Actuator - January 4th

Level 17

I think we are all happy to have 2016 in our rearview mirrors. The start of a new year is a great way to try and have a fresh start towards some goals. Not resolutions, mind you, but goals. Write down one or two goals and think about the steps needed to achieve them. Then sit with your family members and ask how you can help with their goals, and how they can help with yours. If you work together to help each other, you will find it better than trying to do resolutions on your own.

Let's get 2017 off on the right foot! Here's a bunch of links I found on the Intertubz that you may find interesting. Enjoy!

App Security Deserves Far More IT Respect

Yes, it certainly does, but I'm not sure it is IT that needs to focus on security more than it does already. I think it is the business side that must insist upon security when they build out requirements for applications they expect IT to deliver.

Better Road, Grumpier Drivers and the Logic of Discontent

Interesting thoughts on throughput versus quality here. Would you rather have your data be accurate or be fast? Most people focus on speed and assume quality. Same thoughts can be applied to roads and our commute.

An Amazon Echo may be the key to solving a murder case

Interesting case here where details of a murder case may be available in an Echo. I'm now wondering if it would be possible to use data from the myriad of IoT devices in a home to piece together the final moments before foul play happens.

US government subcontractor leaks confidential military personnel data

Because we should start 2017 in the same way we ended 2016: with massive security breaches. I wish I could say that such reports will decline in time, but right now it seems things are getting worse. Then again, maybe we are just getting better at identifying and reporting, kinda like how shark attacks were on the rise one summer.

Parents sue Apple, blame FaceTime for daughter's death

As much as I would like for Apple to have installed this feature, I'm not sure I can hold them responsible for the actions of the driver in this case. If it wasn't FaceTime, let's say the driver was on the phone—could you sue Verizon for allowing the call, considering they can calculate your speed as well?

A new iPhone bug will crash the Messages app with a single text

Here's hoping my teenage kids don't discover stuff like this any time soon and start experimenting. Then again, I could probably use the downtime.

U.S. Customs Starts To Collect Social Media Information

Well, that's not good news for me. Then again, I'm not sure this is good news for anyone. Might be time to think about getting off the grid altogether.

Nothing says "Happy New Year" like a family member asking if you could take a quick look at the problem they are having with their laptop...



I read up on the Amazon echo thing. Sadly, the press is not always technical and many people don't understand what the Amazon echo does/doesn't do. TLDR version which the article helpfully includes as well:

What it does do: have the microphone on at all times/passively.

What it doesn't do: perpetually transmit and/or store the audio it receives from the microphone at all times.

What it does do: record and send to amazon when you trigger it to do it's thing (with the Alexa trigger word or whatever you choose). Amazon has said they save this data for 3-6 months or so?

What amazon doesn't do: receive or have the ability to save anything other than what you've triggered when you say Alexa (do/search/whatever).

What's sad is the article implies IOT is somehow a cornerstone to a case that's going to be solved by things other than Alexa, such as looking at the guy's water usage. Therefore, people are intentionally or accidentally completely missing what information is available to them already. The real question is, how did they obtain the smart water device's info? Where was the warrant? Not the Echo.


"getting off the grid altogether"

I'd like to Like, RT, or +1, or whatever, but I am almost off the grid save for LinkedIn and thwack, so I'll just give you 5 stars and move on.

Happy New Year!

Level 14

Good reads as usual.  Too much craziness in the world today.  Things today tend to get easier and better while also getting worse at the same time.


Regarding the Amazon Echo...don't they do all of that already in Hollywood ?

Therefore it must be so...

Level 12

Given that InstaTwitFaceSpace are free, one could set up a second account with a different email address, with a limited amount of non-controversial content. I have a second email and social account just for redirecting spam.

Parents sue Apple, blame FaceTime for daughter's death

As much as I would like for Apple to have installed this feature, I'm not sure I can hold them responsible for the actions of the driver in this case. If it wasn't FaceTime, let's say the driver was on the phone, could you sue Verizon for allowing the call, considering they can calculate your speed as well?

I think this is why you see companies like Niantic putting this logic in their games like Pokemon Go.  you never know when somone is going to sue you over a personal responsibility issue.


sadly its only a personal responsibility issue for the driver.

But in this case they aren't going after the driver, they're going after the deepest pockets and hoping it sticks.

Personally I don't see a problem with U.S. Customs using social media. It's out there, it's public domain. If you don't want anyone to see it, don't post it. I am fine with putting some more responsibility back on the individual instead of blinders on our law enforcement. There is no right to privacy violation. If there was then that would be a different conversation.

Now... the process in which they collect the information could stand for some improvements.  🙂

Level 20

Lol and Chinese bus that's supposed to drive over cars is scam too lol:  Turns out that futuristic elevated bus is a scam, according to Chinese media — RT Viral

Oh and except for here on thwack I've been mostly off the grid as myself for over a decade now.

Level 14

As far as the Facetime App being responsible for the death in an auto accident, I have to disagree.  First of all, when someone is intentionally distracting themselves while driving, they have crashes, not accidents.  The app itself did not cause the crash, the driver of the car caused it.  We need to start hold drivers responsible for causing crashes while they are intentionally doing something other than focusing on the road.


exactly...they need to be held accountable for their choice of action or inaction.

Since they failed to drive in due regard for the life and safety of others, it is all on them. 

Facetime didn't do anything....

That is a great summary, and I have had this conversation a few times. It turns out that people want to be scared of technology and stuff like this is easy to latch on to. There is plenty out there to fear, but this one doesn't cross that line for me.

Level 21

The article about the Amazon Echo makes me think of an Amazon Echo as the SIEM of home security, you can look back and see what happened at a given time and date.  Maybe a new use case for it?

Agreed. I don't really value that kind of voice tech personally but maybe it's because my wifi coverage + speeds and number of laptops are quite frequent for me. I easily hit over 200mb/s downstream at al times over wifi in all the common rooms in my house so I don't really need something tethered to a location.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.