infosec journalism privacy technology

Worth reading this week – Cyberstalking, Leaks, Pi, startups, Libra, Internet trends

Quote I’ve been pondering:

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” – Rabindranath Tagore

And this one came into my inbox last minute and had to include it this week as well:

“I will have to remember ‘I am here today to cross the swamp, not to fight all the alligators.’”
— From The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

He Cyberstalked Teen Girls for Years—Then They Fought Back – excellent reporting (as always) from Wired on the dangers of cyber stalking and the dangers that teens face in the never ending attempts by creeps to extort over nude selfies. Kids shouldn’t have to feel this way:

“Any type of security thing can happen,” she said. “They can hack anything.” Her shoulders slouched, and she directed her voice to the table where we were sitting. “I just never envisioned that, and it’s just … We shouldn’t have to live in a world where we don’t know if people are real or not.” She folded her arms around herself and bit her lip to stop herself from crying.

Parents need to be better informed about this and they need to equip their kids to be safe online.

Oops: Personal data of 2.7 million people leaked from Desjardins (more coverage). A rogue employee took the data with him/her. This is difficult to prevent. As an infosec pro, I know firsthand just how difficult it is to find a balance between security and business productivity. In many cases, companies err on the side of convenience and ease of access to data. Unfortunately, we continue to see the results of not locking down data sufficiently. That said, there is lots that can be done.

AttunityOops – part 2: TD Bank internal files found online in ‘keys-to-the-kingdom’ cloud data exposure (more from ZDNet) This one is simply shameful: “Attunity, a company that manages and safeguards data, left internal files exposed on the internet for clients including Ford and TD“. “Exposed data includes passwords and private keys for production systems, employee details, sales information.” “A company that manages and safeguards data”? Wow. It’s one thing for a non-security company to bungle access to their data, but it is quite another when a company who specializes in safeguarding data does it. I suspect Attunity sales / technical reps are fielding calls from their major clients today to discuss the status of their data and their contract renewals.

RPi-Logo-SCREENNew Raspberry Pi 4: I love these tiny computers (buy now!). My only problem is that I don’t have much time to tinker anymore. Probably a good thing or I’d have a whole army of them around the house. HackerNews doesn’t disappoint with a crowdsourced list of plenty of interesting (or not) things to do with a Pi.


Wanna do a start up? I’ve tinkered with starting my own business for years, but find it difficult to make the leap when I have been fortunate enough to have an interesting career working for other people. That said, I’ll always be a dreamer. My latest trigger article: Startup idea checklist. Such a good sanity check on building a business. And, some motivational reading as well: How I bootstrapped my side project into a $20k/mo lifestyle business (and my new indie business motivation website)

companyofoneSpeaking of startups, I stumbled across this book online: Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis . It looks similar to The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want by Elaine Pofeldt, which I loved. Tons of great tips and motivation on building a sustainable, profitable one person business. We are all experts at something and we’ve all got something to sell. I haven’t purchased Company of One yet, as my backlog of books to read is huge, but I suspect I’ll pick up a copy soon to motivate me while distracting me from actually doing the work of building my own side hustle.

I missed last week’s post, but had this queued to go out, so I’ll still keep this in this week’s post: The big news last week: Libra – a Facebook-led digital crypto-currency. Plenty of press on this one. The best quick summary I’ve read thus far is by the entertaining writers at The Hustle. Hard to say how well adoption will go – government oversight (boosted by financial industry lobbyists, no doubt) could yet hobble it. But, if they make it easy (embedded in existing systems like Facebook and the gang), secure and stable (the lack of a financial bubble a la bitcoin), then I suspect it’ll take off.

Key findings from the Internet Trends report (as reported in The Idea’s June 17 email):

Mary Meeker released her latest annual Internet Trends report at Recode’s Code Conference. Below are some of the findings most pertinent to the news media industry:

  • 15% of all retail sales are now though e-commerce. E-commerce is growing at 12.4%, and regular retail is growing at just 2%. (Ed note: look out for how publishers continue to capitalize on this growing industry through affiliate links.)
  • Digital ad spending grew 22% in 2018
  • Google and Facebook still dominate the digital ad market, but Amazon and Twitter are growing
  • 62% of all digital display ad buying is of programmatic ads, and that number is growing
  • Customer acquisition costs are increasing, sometimes exceeding customers’ lifetime values for digital subscription companies. Meeker suggests that free trials can be a cost effective way to alleviate that cost.
  • Time spent with digital media is still going up. Americans in 2018 spent 6.3 hours a day, 7% higher than the year before. More than 25% of U.S. adults are “almost constantly online.”

Note: the above stats were all taken from Atlantic Media’s The Idea June 17 email – I don’t want to claim any credit for the summary presented above! If you are interested in the media industry, I highly recommend subscribing to their mailing list.

I think that’s it for this week. For my Canuck readers, enjoy the long weekend!



journalism privacy technology

Worth reading this week – Cherynobyl, online shopping, Google as God?, online reading tools, music playlist portability

Quote I’ve been pondering this week:

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.” ― Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, and engineer

I recently watched Cherynobyl (five part miniseries from HBO). I kept hearing buzz about the series and it did not disappoint. It was really well done and it definitely instilled a healthy respect for nuclear power and has made me want to read more about the discovery and development of nuclear power. There have been many nuclear accidents over the last century, but saying “oops” and ignoring them is an impossible response as the fallout from a nuclear event will stick around long after we are gone (can you say Fukushima). The SL-1 experimental US military reactor accident in 1961 clearly demonstrates the scary power and unforgivable reactions that nuclear power can deliver:

During the accident the core power level reached nearly 20 GW in just four milliseconds, precipitating the steam explosion.


The spray of water and steam knocked two operators onto the floor, killing one and severely injuring another. The No. 7 shield plug from the top of the reactor vessel impaled the third man through his groin and exited his shoulder, pinning him to the ceiling.

With great power comes great responsibility. There are quite a few books on the advent of nuclear power (Dark Sun and The Making of the Atomic Bomb are highly rated). I’d love some recommendations to help me winnow down my choices. I’d love your feedback on what’s worth reading!

We all know that online shopping allows retailers to manipulate us and extract as much money from us as possible. How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All really brings it home to us, highlighting the many ways that we really don’t have a chance in today’s increasingly data-driven economy.

google-trackHere’s a great in-depth series on our lack of privacy online:

Key quote from this series:

For as long as you’ve been using Google, Google has been building a “citizen profile” on you.

Watch for subsequent parts in this series from Patrick Berlinquette at Medium in the near future.

Think about what that means… Google knows pretty much everything about your online behaviour. Some of it is innocuous: age, income, gender, parental status, relationship status. But it can quickly get creepy:

I remember being told when I was little that God knew everything we did, everywhere we went, everyone we talked to and everything we thought. God was all knowing. Sure seems to me like Google is becoming God-like and our cell phones are the primary conduit to that reality. In today’s hyper-connected world, even atheists can no longer avoid an all-knowing, all-seeing entity in our midst.

This week, I’m wrapping up with a question and a complaint:

Question: What media do you regularly read and how do you read it? For me, I read (and in some cases pay for) a bunch of stuff regularly: NYTimes, The Economist and The Athletic are at the top of my list. I use Feedly for tracking my RSS feeds. And I use Instapaper to save long reads for times that are more convenient. What do you do?

And my complaint: Why can’t we easily transfer music playlists from one music service to another? (yes, I know this is also phrased as a question!) I am on Google Play music but I’d really like to try out Apple’s Music service. But, I’ve built up a ton of playlists that won’t port over. Why the hell not? It’s just data! How hard can it be to build a migration tool for playlists? (this is my highest priority consumer feature request at the moment!)

Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend!



journalism technology writing

Worth reading this week

A quote I’ve been pondering lately:

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”  — Bruce Lee

Some interesting stuff that I stumbled across over the last few days:

Yes, This Photo from Everest Is Real – What happened to the days when Everest was the achievement of a select few? Now it looks like an assembly line of rich people all jockeying to get up and down the hill before they die.

Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think (Taming the Mammoth) – So much of what we do in life is predicated on the decision making of “what will other people think?” This is a great treatise on living on your terms in a way that minimizes the unfound fear that prevents so many of us from pursuing things that can bring us more happiness in the limited time we have.

You should have a personal web site – I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging for a while. This little article caught my eye and prompted me to dust off my blog and get writing again. Thanks Mark!

Incognito no more: Publishers close loopholes as paywall blockers emerge – I used to work at an online newspaper and I led some of our paywall integrations. I was always discouraged by the technology because I immediately saw the flaws and workarounds that could be used to skirt them. But seems I’m an outlier. As this article argues, the vast majority of website visitors aren’t tech-savvy enough (or couldn’t be bothered) with trying to go around paywalls (I suspect quite a few just give up and miss out on good content once they hit the end of their free viewing period).

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – I haven’t read the whole article yet, but I was directed to this story while reading Digital Minimalism. Really interesting arguments to be made for limiting screen time, especially for kids. I’m still working through the book, but my fav quote so far: “Regular doses of solitude, mixed in with our default mode of socialite, are necessary to flourish as a human being.

I’m always interested about what you read this week too. Feel free to share what you’ve been reading in the comments below.

Talk soon!


journalism news technology writing


What a beautiful May long weekend this has been! The weather has been good (for the most part – especially if we ignore last night’s rain), the schedule has been light so that it hasn’t felt too hectic and the kids have been having fun all weekend which makes things more enjoyable around the house.

And I have found some time this weekend to sit and catch up on some of my reading. I’m always reading something, but my magazine pile tends to stack up over time as it is always my last priority given that my iPhone, iPad and Kindle are almost always within arms reach. I don’t know if it is the influence of Digital Minimalism, which I am working my way through on my Kindle, or if it is just the chance to sit on the back deck in the sunshine and relaxing lay flip through a magazine, but either way, I chipped away at my magazine pile a bit this morning.

Side note: Is it ironic that I am reading Digital Minimalism on my Kindle? It is a digital device, but it is a purpose-built digital device designed to allow for uninterrupted reading. I’ll go with the later, but am curious to hear your thoughts too!

In the June 2019 issue of The Walrus, Jessica Johnson, in the Editor’s Letter (sorry… I couldn’t find a copy of her letter online so you’ll have to find the paper copy if you want to read the whole thing), Jessica provides an overview the business model of writing for pay in journalism (from the 1929 Saturday Evening Post to Apple News+ and everything in between!). The decline in revenue in the newspaper space has been well documented over the last two decades. The Internet set out to make information free, yet the free model cannot sustain quality and accuracy.

The tide is starting to turn though. As Jessica says, “The good news is that there are pivotal conversations taking place in government, in boardrooms, and in newsrooms about the role of journalism in our society”. We are seeing the hashtag #PayForJournalism more often. And Jessica’s call to show our appreciation for quality journalism via our wallets is an important reminder of the need to support quality journalism.

I’ll leave it to Jessica to wrap up this post with her parting words from her Editor’s Letter:

If you read a free article – or ten – online today, please make a donation or subscribe to The Walrus or the independent journalistic outlet of your choice.