Tales from the Technoverse

Commentary on social networking, technology, movies, society, and random musings

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Counting Down

October 22nd, 2014 · government, technology

I’ll be on the Francis Rose hosted Federal News Countdown this coming Friday at 4pm, on WFED, 1500 on your AM (yes, they still broadcast on AM) dial.

The format of the show is two people “select three news stories they think are most important in the world of government.”

So my next step is to pick three important stories. If you have any suggestions post a comment or send me an email, dmintz@esemconsulting.com.

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Sharing Is Not Always An Easy Thing – Federal-Commercial Spectrum Data Workshop

October 20th, 2014 · technology

I have been asked to facilitate a workshop which will attempt to move the dialog along about spectrum sharing.  The workshop will be all day October 21st at the National Science Foundation

It is one of the action steps that resulted from President Obama’s Memorandum on “Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution”, further discussed in a report produced by the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in July, 2012.

Over the last few months I have been meeting with members of the Wireless Spectrum Research & Development Senior Steering Group (WSRD SSG) to help plan the workshop. It has been a pretty exciting opportunity for me to work with such a talented and smart group of people. In addition I have learned much about the issues that need to be dealt with to make more spectrum available.

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The Buck Stops Here

October 14th, 2014 · movies

There are, at least, two things that my daughters mention that I never did for them. I never took them fishing (of course I have almost never fished) and I never took them horseback riding (I guess I did that a little bit myself but it violated my ‘feet-are-on-the-ground happy place’ approach.

The movie I just finished, Buck, deals with horses.

Buck Brannaman, is the prototypical what-we-think-a-cowboy-should-be cowboy (I guess I am overusing hyphens this morning). He travels around the country teaching people how to ride horses better. In fact he is really teaching them about how to treat horses better. As he says in the movie (paraphrased), “People do not have a horse problem, horses have a people problem.” And what he really is teaching is much about the riders themselves about themselves.

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Rent Seeking, Teeth Whitening, and Grapes

October 12th, 2014 · economics, government, law

George Will has an interesting column today about rent seeking as it applies to teeth whitening.

Rent seeking is an economics term used when someone attempts to achieve additional profits without creating actual value. It often is used to describe situations when someone uses the government to implement policies that reduce competition to allow this incremental profit to occur.

The situation described in George Will’s column discusses the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners. The NC Board has said that only licensed dentists can perform teeth whitening and, in fact, has also asked the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners (I wonder if Maryland has such a thing) to forbid licensed cosmetologists from performing teeth whitening also.

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Life’s Little Annoyances

October 10th, 2014 · movies

When one represents that shrinking number of people who actually still rent actual DVD’s to watch (my Netflix queue is up to around 490), some things end up being a mild irritant that others would not even notice.

It is normal that when a DVD starts there are a series of previews of films that had just come out, or at least just came out in let us say 2006 when the DVD was made, plus coming attractions for films that will be coming out in the future, late-2006.

After pressing the menu key on my DVD clicker usually I am allowed to skip to the movie, every now and then it will not. This is only a mild problem EXCEPT when the power surges and the DVD player in the basement locks up until I turn it off and then back on. This forces me to go through the previews and coming attractions again.

This morning I returned to my watching the documentary Buck, more about that later, which is a Sundance Select film. It turns out that Sundance Select DVD’s or at least THIS Sundance Select DVD forces you to wade through all this preliminary stuff.

My immediate reaction was that perhaps here was a political metaphor, those on the Hollywood liberal left (but I repeat myself) forcing viewers to be under their control. However, Ellen tells me I over-generalize about such things so I shall not think that, at least when she is looking. But just between you and me …

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Well, That Hurt

October 8th, 2014 · baseball, washington nationals

There are times when I am not sure I am in sync with Tennyson’s “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”, at least to the extent one applies it to rooting for a sports team.

For most of my life I either was a fan of a really lousy baseball team or had no team at all to support, having grown up in or just outside of Washington DC. While painful, it was sort of a calm, comforting painful. Low intensity, though at the time I did not recognize it as such at the time.

However, this has now all changed. Over the last three years, the Nationals twice had the best record in the National League (once the best in baseball) sandwiched around a season where they were favored, and failed, to do that still a third time. In the two years they made the playoffs, they lost in the 5th game of the initial five-game playoff series, after leading 6-0, a game I attended in 2012, and lost in four, last night, by giving up one run on a bases-loaded walk and another on a wild pitch. At least this year, the loss was out-of-town and I merely watched it on TV in tense agony until it ended after midnight.

By the way am I the only person who seems to wake-up around the same time no matter when I go to sleep?

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There is No Place Like Gnome

October 5th, 2014 · baseball

So Friday morning when I woke up early, something I unfortunately seem to have inherited from my father who also was an early rising, when I went to my home/office and looked at my computer keyboard I found a gnome hat, made by my wonderful wife Ellen.

So naturally the first thing I did was take a selfie.



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Chak De! India

October 2nd, 2014 · movies

As I have mentioned before most (it should really be all) mornings I walk on an elliptical walker down in the basement and watch movies.

It usually takes 3-5 days to watch each movie, or if it is a TV show series (for example, I just finished season 1 of Once Upon A Time), I watch one show each morning.

While I have not as many foreign films in recent days, they are among my favorite ones to watch.

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Out Is A Cybersecurity Problem

September 11th, 2014 · cyber-security

There is an interesting article about the Department of Defense database used to track security clearance revocations.

The article talks about a database which had been setup to keep track of those people who had their security clearances revoked. The context was to help in identifying high-risk individuals that might compromise security.

It is another example of how the problem with most personnel tracking is out-processing as opposed to in-processing.

The reason is pretty obvious.

The incentives to ensure in-processing works are very high. Usually the person involved and their organization cannot work or access the information needed until the person has been in-processed and is officially ‘in-the-system’. Therefore both informal pushing, from the person, and official pushing, from the organization, is in effect built into the system. In the usually conflicted world we live in where not everything is accomplished in a timely fashion, in-processing will get bumped to the top of the list.

Out-processing however is much less clear-cut in terms of priorities. Nothing automatically is stopped when out-processing is not accomplished in a timely fashion. Paychecks aren’t prevented from happening, employees aren’t prevented from going to work, projects are typically not negatively impacted. The bad result only occurs indirectly when it is necessary to utilize the system and the data turns out to be faulty or incomplete. By that time, fixing the database often proves to be so resource intensive that it never happens successfully.

The solution to this, to the extent there is a solution, is to build in negative results that cause organizationally damage if the out-processing is not completed in a timely fashion. This is so counter-intuitive that it rarely occurs. However, since out-processing deficiencies are one of the continuing problems in security architecture, it deserves increased attention.

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My Presentation to the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence

August 27th, 2014 · cyber-security, technology

I was invited to testify earlier today before the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence.

The Commission was established by the Maryland State Legislature to “conduct an overview of federal and state cyber security laws and policies and consider Maryland’s role in promoting cyber innovation and to recommend a comprehensive framework and strategic plan for cyber security innovation and excellence”.

I was asked to talk about trends I thought were important in IT Technology over the next 2-3 years, the cybersecurity implications of those trends, and to add my take on possible policy issues that the Commission might take a look at. As part of the presentation I was asked to give some background about myself (I noted that I was pretty much the most local person they would find, having been born in Washington DC and grown up in Montgomery County, while going to college at the University of Maryland College Park and then the University of Maryland University College.

My Presentation.



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