Boeing 787: A Hacker’s Dreamliner?

Boeing 787: A Hacker’s Dreamliner? – 1/7/2008 1:04:00 PM – Design News

I smell a Bruce Willis movie (or is it that guy with the pony tail who slaps people a lot?). Thanks to Jim Leonard for the pointer, evidently inspired by my JetBlue non-working networking experience.

“Is the Boeing 787 safe from attack by computer hackers? With the plane still months away from its first commercial flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week issued a document that raises questions about the security of the 787’s computer architecture.”

Essentially Design News reports that there are fears of a bridge between onboard IT systems and a passenger riding a Net connection would be able to penetrate the avionics.

Rubber Chicken Tech Support

Late yesterday I got the call I’ve come to dread:

“Dad, my laptop is dead.”

Being the inhouse Geek Squad, I’ve long ago given up any hope of providing viable tech support over the phone. I can upgrade RAM, even replace a cracked LCD, but trying to recover a PC from the state of rowboat anchor over the phone, over a cell phone at that, is hopeless in my experience. I ask my son the usual — did you try another AC adapter, did you try taking out the battery and plugging in the adapter — but he was a step ahead of me and it looked as if his two year old Z61 was slated for a motherboard replacement.

I know he has screenplays on the thing, and all sorts of school stuff, so tossing the machine was not an option. It will probably be a few weeks before I return to NYC, so hands on transfer of the old hard drive to a new system would have to wait.

Ugh. Off I went to the Lenovo Employee Purchase site to find a deal on an R61, I really don’t want to eat $750 for a new PC.

This morning I idly Googled “dead ThinkPad” and found one of the wackiest solutions ever seen proposed for reviving the dead. This was on, Mike Masnick of TechDirt’s personal blog.

“So I called up IBM support and explained the situation. The guy on the other end then let me in on the secret power button code to revive your dead Thinkpad. After assessing the situation (totally dead laptop) he warned me: “Okay, this is going to sound totally bizarre, but I want you to give this a try…” He then had me unplug the AC adapter and take out the battery. Then, you push the power button 10 times in a row at one second intervals. Next, you push and hold the power button for 30 seconds. Then you put the battery back in and push the power button… and she lives. The computer came back, good as ever.”

I called my son this morning and walked him through the process. He was skeptical, but went through the motions.

There was silence. Then those wonderful words: “Oh my god …..thank you thank you thank you.”

I don’t know what happened, I don’t want to know what happened, but all I know is a single Google search saved me nearly a thousand bucks.

Vest-iges of Senescence

I’ve taken to wearing a vest while I work at home – an affectation brought on by the need to keep the thermostat down and my core temperature up on those winter days when I find myself in my home office and not on the road or in Raleigh. I’ve never worn one before – with the exception of a down vest at some point in the late 1970s when down vests were all the rage – and have never owned a three piece suit and the sartorial version with a watch pocket and a satin back.

My vest is from Filson – the Seattle outfitter I’ve blogged of in the past – and it is essentially a cut up green wool army blanket that is thick, itchy, and warmer than expected. It has six pockets to house reading glasses, pens, pencils, Swiss Army Knife, phone, and cold hands; has five buttons, and is the antithesis of any modern “performance” garment with a name like TechWick or GoreTex. Filson makes it out of 26 ounce “Mackinaw” wool and I suspect it will outlast me by 50 years if the moths don’t get at it first. This is something to take to the Yukon. Jack London clothing. Something from the turn of the century and I don’t mean 1999.

One has to love a garment marketed as being “quiet in the field.” There is something vaguely Mister Wilson-ish about vests, not quite as fuddy-duddy as say a sweater vest, but right up there. Proclaiming the utility of pockets to one’s critics sounds completely incriminatory, and the verb “to putter” comes to mind whenever I put it on. I’d classify it as a Goldilocks form of outerwear – a “just-right” thing for brief outdoor excursions, a great layer when the going gets frigid, but light enough to wear inside without boiling over.

Marketing In A Down Market –

Marketing In A Down Market –
Marc Babej, ex-Forbes writer and current NYC marketing consultant and columnist, writes in his current column on marketing tactics in a recession:

“5. Shift media spending to accountable media. Not because they necessarily perform better, but because investment in them can be justified in terms of return on investment. A heavy bias toward accountable spending is the best way to protect marketing budgets from profit-starved CFOs.”

This would bias spends towards search and email marketing — put a hurt on print which would be irrecoverable for some publications with already shaky balance sheets — and see the rise of auction models against remaindered traditional impressions (GoogleTV rushes to mind). It will be interesting to see how the supply of “accountable” media impressions holds. Right now the conventional wisdom shows a glut, so CPM pressure should be low.

Snow days – whereabouts week of Jan 28

When I was a kid, the suspense of figuring out whether there would be a snow day was crushing. Mom would kick us out of bed, and while she made breakfast we’d listen to WBZ for the announcer to read the list of closings. With 365 towns in the Commonwealth, and who knows how many nursery schools, senior centers, and knitting circles to work through, hearing the magic words that one’s town was closed was like hearing we had achieved victory in Germany and Japan simultaneously.

Then she’d promptly slip old plastic bread bags over our socked feet, stick them in buckled rubber boots, and kick us, swaddled in low tech wool, out into the maelstrom to spend the day moaning to be let back inside.

This morning I go to a website and tell in an instant whether or not I have to mess with the streets and kick Junior out of bed. He’s up there now, blissfully oblivious and missing out on the anticipation of days gone by. I look at my cell phone and learn that at some prudent point in the past I actually signed up for a SMS alert.

About a foot of snow fell last night in strong northerly winds. I’d classify it as a baby blizzard. We didn’t lose lights. The driveway is a mess. Cousin Pete needs to plow me out before I contemplate travel. So …. this week, Cotuit is the plan. North Carolina next week for lots of meetings.

Now to kick the snow off the wood pile and get a fire blazing before my 7 am Olympic marketing call with Beijing.

The reformation of the RealPlayer

RealPlayer — the first (or one of the first) rich media players from the earliest days of the web — has undergone some zigs and zags in its business model over the past decade that I won’t try to summarize. But we all know that eventually, somewhere, there’s a video clip that demands a download from RealNetworks, and in the past that was one of the worst experiences in web plug-ins, taking over your system, demanding emails, trying to trick one into a premium upgrade …. in short, once you downloaded a Real player you started to see tons of popup crap and other badness. SuperPass, Gold Edition, Rhapsody … they all have their merits I’m sure, but there was an irritation to the Real download process that left a bad taste.
Not anymore. I don’t know what happened to management, maybe someone listened to the users, but the upsell crap, the confusing medly of paid media come-ons and personal information trickery has vanished with RealPlayer Version 11.
But here’s the thing. I installed the latest version of the player last week and answered yes to a prompt to embed what I can best describe as Snag-It for video (see the “Download This Video” tab on the HP ad below). Now I have the capability to watch a video and download it locally. This is a big deal for me, especially in capturing flash (.flv) video ads to show our CMO and my team as examples of what the competition or other advertisers are doing. Some people may shrug and say, hey there’s a ton of stuff to do that already, but I didn’t know I needed it until Real gave it to me. Further, once I play the clip locally in the RealPlayer I have the option to share it with a friend, helping me alert people to a clip I want them to pay attention to.

So, wow, all of a sudden Real went from a bad thing to a good thing. Big respect to Rob Glaser for turning an annoyance into a much better product. My only suggestion is to make it more intuitive to rename clips — right now they inherit the title tag from the site they were drawn from.

Google reader annoyances

Google Reader won’t display my subscriptions — hasn’t done so for the past few days. I’ve logged off and on, flushed my cache, and still, I get the page, the header, but none of my stuff. My feeds are appearing inside of the iGoogle reader gadget, so the subs haven’t disappeared. Annoying. None of my other google accounts display in reader either.

The Gates Speech — Rebuilding Capitalism

Bill Gates — in the twilight of his technical career at Microsoft, on the eve of his new one in philanthropy at the helm of his Gates Foundation — is set to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, CH today to call for a “kinder, creative” capitalism (according to the subject line of the Wall Street Journal’s email alert this morning). This should be a classic Davos speech, the kind of thing captains of industry and heads of state and rock and roll front men want to discuss, and it should kick off a furious bout of analysis, guffaws, and more important, heavy thinking about the role of corporate social responsibility.

“”We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,” Mr. Gates will tell world leaders at the forum, according to a copy of the speech seen by The Wall Street Journal.”

“Among the fixes he plans to call for: Companies should create businesses that focus on building products and services for the poor. “Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces,” he plans to say.”

I strongly recommend a read of the Journal story, it’s a deep look at how the richest man in the world intends to leave his mark on the world, and that mark won’t look like this if he has his way.

Corporate Social Responsibility is due to be changed in some tangible ways. Lenovo is lucky to have Bill Stevenson guiding its efforts, and I’ll be interested in his thoughts on today’s speech by Gates. You can read Bill’s blog at

Jeff Jarvis is liveblogging from Davos and hits on the Gore/Bono-Google sessions.

%d bloggers like this: