Sunday, August 1, 2010

Australia's Free Fiber

It seems to me that in this ars technica article about the Australian Government giving away free fiber-optic cable really doesn't delve into the reasons a person may have to reject such a service. Well I do believe that there is a very important privacy concern regarding this service. With the implementation of this new system, the government will start to phase out the copper infrastructure already in place, meaning that any land line calls being made will be carried via the government owned fiber-optics, which also means that all phone calls will be carried over the same network as your internet service, allowing the government complete control of the information that comes into and leaves your house. Now that sounds more like something that the Chinese have in the works than a supposedly free society such as Australia. Now lets revisit the question every Australian is being faced with when that government employee comes knocking at their door as it should be formatted "would you like to allow the government to monitor every single communication you send and receive?" Granted under current Australian law they do try to filter the internet at the ISP level, but this goes much farther than mere filtering. Oh and don't get me started about the government trying to change the law to force people to comply with this edict.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wal Mart RFID

Over the past few days I have been seeing a lot of discussion about the new RFID system that Wal Mart plans on implementing in some of its inventory. What interests me about these discussions is that for the most part I have only encountered people who believe that this new system will be used as tool for Wal Mart to collect the private data of its customers. At the face of it I think that these claims are wild fictions created to malign Wal Mart. In this article by Anne D'Innocenzio, she talks about being able to use the system to read new drivers liscences that use RFID tags to transmit data about the person and about using the system to track customer purchases after the tags are thrown away. I don't believe that either of those will be a problem for this system because as with the government issued passports that contain RFID chips people should be taking measures to block those radio transmissions because those tags are easy to read and anyone can pick up the tools necessary to do so. I don't believe the tags on the clothing being thrown away is an issue because as with most retail anti-theft measures, the devices are removed and disposed of in-store. Now that being said I hope that this new system allows Wal Mart to better serve their customers in a variety of ways. The biggest reason I believe Wal Mart is implementing this measure is to cut costs because according to this article in 2002 retail inventory theft cost $31 billion in the U.S., and who do you think pays that cost the retailer? no it is passed on to the consumer so if this system can reduce the amount of retail theft, which I believe it can because it will allow store managers to more easily track merchandise in-stock, then Wal Mart will be able to pass their increased savings onto us, the consumer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Technology in Schools

I was listening to This Week in Tech 258(a technology show hosted by Leo Laporte with various Co-Hosts) today and they mentioned a recent news story about an 11 year old girl who has gotten herself into a lot of trouble recently because of the way she carries herself online. During the show they talked about how parents need to talk to their children about the internet and the responsibilities using it entails and even likened it to the "sex talk" parents are supposed to have with their children. This comparison to the "sex talk" got me thinking about the Sex Education that I received when I was in elementary school and how these days it is almost as important for children to learn about proper online etiquette. I believe it is vitally important for our educational institutions to train our children to stay safe while interacting with others online. I know from personal experience that taking computer related classes during your primary and secondary education greatly increases the utility of your computer and helps you minimize the risks you take while socializing online. In the end, I hope that in the coming years states start to mandate computer education classes to make our future generation even more tech savvy.