March 12th was NOT the Birthday of “The Internet”

world-wide-web-birthdayA lot of news stories circulated yesterday celebrating “the birthday of the Internet”. I’m about to get a little nitpicky here, but guess what, it’s my blog so I can do what I want. If anything, March 12th can be considered the birthday of the World Wide Web, but the Internet has been in existence in various forms since 1969. So for technical correctness, please stop saying this is the 25th anniversary of “the Internet”. I know that for many of us, the web – for all practical purposes – IS the Internet, but let’s try to be just a little historically correct, shall we?

That being said, I’m about to get even more nitpicky. March 12th, 1989 is the date that Tim Berners-Lee first put forth a proposal to his employer, CERN, for developing a new way of linking and sharing information over the Internet (just to reiterate my point above, the Internet had to already BE in existence in order to create a World Wide Web). However I feel it is a stretch to say that this proposal, while it was the genesis of the World Wide Web, is the actual birthday of the web. This proposal put forth the very basic ideas that would grow into the web. However, if one reads the proposal, it is much more of a request to research the feasibility of such a system and to develop a future plan to implement such a system. In fact, at the end of the proposal, Berners-Lee specifically calls out that a second phase would be required to set up a real system at CERN. To boot, this proposal was never actually officially accepted, but Berner-Lee’s boss allowed him to work on it as a side project.

So what do I consider the real birthday of the World Wide Web? It’s hard to say specifically, but here are some important dates:

  • November 12, 1990: This is the date that Tim Berners-Lee put forth another proposal detailing the technical specification for actually developing a system that he called “WorldWideWeb”. This proposal was accepted and the real work of creating the web was put into motion. This could more accurately be called the birthday of the web.
  • February 26, 1991: On this date Berners-Lee released the first web browser to his colleagues within CERN. At this point the web was only available within CERN, but the fact that people were browsing is significant.
  • May 17, 1991: The first machine set up as a web server to the public Internet is set up by Tim Berners-Lee. Truly, this could be considered the birthday of the web as it was the first time anyone in the world (who had Internet access, of course) could feasibly browse the web. Not that there was much information of interest available that day. From this point forward, web servers were set up in organizations all over the world and development of web browsers for all computer operating systems began in earnest.
  • April 30, 1993: The source code of the World Wide Web protocols are made public domain by CERN. Tim Berners-Lee urged CERN to do this so that it would be freely available to anyone who wanted to set up a web site. Had this not happened, it would have changed the history of the web as the de-facto standard for organizing and sharing information on the Internet. Some people consider this the real birth of the World Wide Web and the moment the Internet began to creep into the mainstream.

Now, I’m not going to argue much with the people behind the Web at 25 movement, since Tim Berners-Lee himself is supportive of this project, even thought I might disagree with the particulars. They say he “invented” the web in 1989, but that’s like saying Edison invented the light bulb before he actually got it working. It’s one thing to come up with an idea, it’s another to actually make it reality. I still say that the “invention” or “birth” of the World Wide Web took place in late 1990/early 1991 as the dates above show. But if people want to celebrate the idea that the web was born on March 12, 1989, that’s fine, especially since the man who created it isn’t arguing. In my research as a technology historian, I know that many dates in history are hard to pin down exactly, especially when it comes to technology development. In fact, the dates I list above may not be entirely accurate depending on how people define technology releases and which source is claiming what. So at least March 12, 1989 does point to written documentation of the first reference to the project that would eventually become the World Wide Web. But please, at least call it for what it is, not “the birthday of the Internet”.

Sneek Peek #3 of Diggers Episode Featuring Steve Jobs Lost Aspen Time Tube

Here is the second clip I found from the upcoming episode of Diggers where we recovered Steve Jobs’ Lisa mouse.

Another Sneek Peek of Diggers Episode Featuring Steve Jobs Lost Aspen Time Tube

I found two additional clips from the upcoming episode of Diggers where we recovered Steve Jobs’ Lisa mouse. Here is the first one:

Sneak Peek of Diggers Episode; “Lost” Steve Jobs Aspen Time Tube

C|NET just released a video sneak peak of the upcoming Diggers episode where they unearth the Lost Apsen Time Tube containing Steve Jobs’ Lisa mouse from his “Lost” 1983 Speech. I am featured at the end of the clip talking about Steve Jobs and the mouse. Check it out!

The original article with the video is here on C|NET’s site.

“Lost” Steve Jobs Time Capsule Episode to Air February 25 on National Geographic Channel

This is a picture of me, the cast of Diggers, and two people who were at the IDCA conference in 1983. From left to right, "Ringy", me, "KG", Thane Roberts, and my client John Celuch.

This is a picture of me (second from the left), the cast of Diggers, and two people who were involved with the time capsule at the IDCA conference in 1983. From left to right, “Ringy”, Marcel Brown, “KG”, Thane Roberts, and my client John Celuch. The time capsule is behind us.

We finally have an official air date for the highly anticipated excavation of the “Lost” Steve Jobs Time Capsule and his Lisa mouse that was buried inside. The National Geographic Channel will air two episodes of Diggers on February 25th starting at 10 PM Eastern. One of the episodes will feature the Aspen Time Tube and the efforts that finally culminated in the recovery of the Lisa mouse. I will also personally be featured in the show, offering historical perspective on the significance of Steve Jobs, the “lost” speech that he gave at the conference in Aspen, the history of the technology industry since 1983, and some of the more interesting technology artifacts that were uncovered.

I have little details about the episode but here is what I have been told:

  • Usually Diggers runs 30-minute segments per dig site, but because the Aspen excavation was such a big project it will be featured for an entire one hour episode.
  • The Aspen episode is intended to be the season premiere. Whether this means it will air first of the two episodes that night is still up in the air, but I certainly hope so!

So set your DVRs and don’t miss this episode! For those of you that live in my area, we are planning a watch party to be held somewhere  that has a large party room with TVs. Stay tuned for details!

Mac OS X Mavericks: The Sky is Falling … Or Not.

Settle it down there, Chicken Little!

Settle it down there, Chicken Little!

An article on ZDNet, “Mavericks: The end of Macs in the enterprise?“, complains that Apple will no longer update older versions of their Mac operating systems, now that Mac OS X 10.9 has been released. The author claims that Apple is forcing CIOs to make a choice of upgrading to an untested operating system or leave themselves open to attack. The author certainly makes a convincing sounding argument, but ultimately it is not much more than Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling.

The author starts off by stating that Macs have never been that popular in the enterprise, which is somewhat funny because if Macs are not that popular in the corporate world, then what is the point of writing this article? I can only guess that it serves to tip the author’s hand that he simply isn’t that fond of Macintosh computers, which he reinforces by calling them “shiny” and later “pretty”, as if that is the only reason people buy Apple computers.

To say that Macs have never been that popular “in the enterprise” is true, but it isn’t the whole truth. The reality is that Macs have never been popular with IT departments who are in charge of managing a large number of commodity computers. To ask end-users, I’m sure we’d have a very different answer as to which computer they prefer, if given a choice. In addition, Macs are popular with departments that value what the Mac brings to the table, obviously design and/or publishing departments within corporations. These departments usually operate mostly autonomously from the larger corporate IT department because 1) many IT people have a irrational dislike of computers that aren’t Windows-based PCs, and 2) they generally do not require the constant support a Windows environment requires. Most creative departments are fairly happy to self-support their Macs because they can. And because Mac-using departments generally don’t need help from their corporate IT, it only serves to further raise the ire of IT departments who generally don’t like users who aren’t beholden to their assistance.

Macs will probably never be popular with enterprise IT departments, but it isn’t because of security “issues”. It is because the enterprise wants commodity computing. Macs will never be commodity computing. We shouldn’t look for Macs to replace PCs as commodity computing because mobile devices are doing that already. Not that it is relevant to this discussion, but it is somewhat amusing to see that Apple’s iPhone and iPad are the darling of corporate America. Again, not because they have been blessed by corporate IT, but rather because end users have overwhelmingly demanded it.

The reality is as CIO it doesn’t matter what you think. You will need to support whatever devices your end-users are bringing into the work environment. BYOD isn’t a suggestion anymore. But this is actually a very good thing for the enterprise. Shift the burden of device support to your users. Configure your IT infrastructure so that it doesn’t matter what device your users bring on. And for the love of god, make sure your corporate data security isn’t dependent on securing end-user devices. If your network can be compromised because some  PC has a virus, then you’ve failed. Just as companies don’t give employees cars nor worry about the maintenance of their employees transportation, companies should make it an expectation that employees have properly functioning computing devices. If it doesn’t work, its up to the employees to get it fixed. That will ensure employees make good decisions about their technology. Which usually means NOT choosing a Windows PC.

Still, the entire premise of this article is highly suspect. Why on Earth would you switch to an untested operating system? Mavericks is out now. Start testing it. It’s not like you need to upgrade right this second. You have at least a few weeks if not months to do some very thorough testing and for software vendors to patch software if necessary. The sky is not falling, Chicken Little.

I understand that when viewing the world through Windows-colored glasses, people tend to be a little jittery. Yes, security patches are an absolutely critical thing for Windows systems. I can’t blame anyone for being a little shell shocked when they are in charge of a Windows environment. Windows is a war-zone and those who use Windows need to take every precaution necessary. But after 12 years and only a very few instances of malicious software – most of which has been very minor, not very widespread, and/or easily remedied – I think the proof is in the pudding that Mac OS X is a very secure operating system. Apple might not be patching older operating systems? Boo-hoo. Pull up your big boy pants and realize this is The New World of Technology. If security is your concern, you should be embracing anything that doesn’t start with a “W” and ends with “indows”.

If the idea is to walk away from headaches, everyone in IT should have long ago ran screaming from the migraine that is Windows. Managing Mac computers is a walk in the park compared to the nightmare that is Windows. If the choice is to not leave yourself open to attackers, Windows is NOT that choice. Windows’ swiss-cheese design leaves itself open to attackers and we must stay vigilant to patch every hole in the dam that springs a leak. The Mac OS has proven itself to be a formidable fortress and the latest version is more secure than ever. Instead of acting like Chicken Little and screaming that the sky is falling, take a breath, look at the big picture, and quit missing the forest for the trees.

Can We Now Please Get Serious About Viruses?

system-failureMany news reports last month warned of a new type of ransomware called CryptoLocker. In a nutshell, CryptoLocker uses sophisticated encryption techniques to scramble an infected user’s data and then holds the data for ransom. Only if the user pays $300 will the data be decrypted and become usable again. If the user does not pay $300 within about 3 or 4 days of getting infected, CryptoLocker automatically destroys the decryption key required to unlock the data and the user will never be able to recover the data in any other way. If this sounds nasty, you’re damn right it is.

Of course, as with nearly all malicious software, this malware can only infect Windows-based systems. At this time, CryptoLocker can not infect Macintosh computers, iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), or Android-based devices. While it is within the realm of reality that criminals could create a Mac version, the underlying secure UNIX-based design of the Mac makes this very unlikely (the virtual non-existence of malware for the Mac OS X platform after 12 years should be proof enough). I’ll keep it simple and say there’s zero chance of this happening on iOS platforms. And while this particular incarnation of CryptoLocker probably wouldn’t be effective on an Android device, there are already examples of ransomware popping up on Android devices.

In other news, another malware called Dexter has resurfaced in South Africa after infecting systems in the US, UK and dozens of other countries towards the end of last year. This particular malware attacks Windows-based point-of-sale systems and skims credit card information from customers shopping at infected stores. But what’s tens of millions dollars between friends, eh?

While scams can happen on any platform, and some cross-platform development environments (Java, Adobe Flash) can create malware on any platform that supports them, the bottom line is that Windows is the center of the malware universe. Windows is so full of holes it makes Swiss Cheese jealous. For all the anti-virus software out there, their effectiveness has steadily declined over the years, detecting only 70 to 90 percent of malware according to a report from a few years ago. The situation hasn’t improved over the years, as malware is increasingly prevalent and more sophisticated in its methods of attack and evasion.

Windows is a war zone. If you choose to participate in this environment, you must take increasingly intricate actions to stay protected. And that protection is dubious in nature. Where simple anti-virus software and firewalls used to be enough for most people, it is becoming increasingly clear that additional layers of protection are necessary to actually be “protected”. Most of these steps are far beyond the average computer user’s comprehension or feasibility of implementation and even then it is a constant battle to stay updated and aware.

When will enough be enough? Untold numbers of individuals and businesses lose millions upon millions of dollars a year combating a problem that Microsoft’s operating system fosters. Sure it isn’t Microsoft’s fault that malware authors feast on their operating system, but the reality is that Microsoft created the environment for malware to flourish. Something MUST change in the technology industry because this simply can NOT continue. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder.

It is time to face the stark reality that Windows is no longer (not that it has ever truly been) a platform that we can consider a viable foundation to run our lives or businesses. For all the hype about Windows 8 (not that anyone is listening) the reality is that Windows users are one infection away from losing their valuable data. That data could be irreplaceable photos of their children. Or it could be information that their livelihood depends on. Or it could be other people’s confidential information that they have been entrusted with. I for one am sick of dealing with this problem. It does not need to be this way.

Other operating systems, namely the Mac and iOS, are virtually immune to malware. Nothing is perfect, but Mac OS X is a paradise compared to the Windows war zone. And iOS is virtually impregnable with Apple strictly controlling that environment and how software can be installed on it.

Technology professionals, it is time for a “come to Jesus” moment. If you continue to advocate the deployment of technologies founded on Windows – and if you advocate for the deployment of other malware-susceptible platforms such as Android – you are doing your customers, clients, or employers a disservice. More than that I suggest you are now sabotaging those who pay your salaries. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourselves if you can live with the potential disaster that lurks around the corner. The next CryptoLocker or Dexter attack may hit your systems and you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves. It is time to take a stand and start informing those who look to you for technology expertise that the only real solution to malware is to move away from the platforms that are their breeding grounds. Yes, it will be tough to swim against the current, but the tide is already changing. Will you help lead the charge or simply follow along?

Apple’s Shot Across Microsoft’s Bow

Apple Has Their Sights Directly on Microsoft

Apple Has Their Sights Directly on Microsoft

During Apple’s media event on September 10th in which they introduced the new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced something that has not received a whole lot of media attention. However, this announcement while seemingly small, may actually have the biggest impact on the near-term future of the technology industry.

I’ve written before how Microsoft is in a tough situation in the mobile device market. They are a distant third-place to Apple’s iOS-based devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and the variety of Google Android-based devices. However, unlike the now fourth-place BlackBerry, Microsoft has a strong cashflow due to their existing PC Windows operating system and PC Microsoft Office sales. They have time to try to mount a respectable mobile platform, while BlackBerry is for all intents and purposes dead. The problem for Microsoft is that these cash cows won’t last forever. The PC era is over and Microsoft needs to develop a strong position in the mobile device market sooner than later if they want to remain a significant player in the technology industry.

In an attempt to leverage their strength in the PC market to give them a springboard into the mobile device market, Microsoft has withheld Office from the iOS and Android platforms (even though a rumored iOS version of Office was ready in early 2012). Microsoft is betting that by only offering Microsoft-branded Office on Microsoft-based mobile devices this will lure droves of users away from the other platforms into the Microsoft fold. As I’ve written, this is basically betting the farm for Microsoft because they longer they withhold Office from other mobile platforms (specifically the iPad), the more likely users will realize life without Microsoft Office is just fine. Once users no longer have an attachment to Microsoft Office, the most viable cashflow stream for Microsoft dries up and the company itself will be in big trouble.

The announcement on September 10th that was mostly ignored is that Apple will give away their iWork suite of office productivity apps to all new iOS devices. If it isn’t already obvious to you, this is a significant challenge to Microsoft. First, Apple is basically saying to Microsoft, “screw you, we don’t need your Office on our platform”. Second, Apple is basically daring Microsoft to bring Office to iOS ASAP. Apple knows that if Microsoft brings Office to iOS at any point soon, it will basically kill Microsoft’s best chance of gaining a foothold with Windows in the mobile device market. But now that Apple is giving away the iWork suite on all new iOS devices, it puts the squeeze on Microsoft to have an offering on iOS devices before Apple’s office productivity software becomes the de-facto standard on the leading mobile platform.

Apple has just put Microsoft in-between a rock and a hard place. Apple is basically forcing Microsoft to make a tough decision: save Microsoft Office and possibly the entire company but sacrifice Windows – or continue to bet the entire company and possibly lose everything. But by giving away iWork for free, Apple may have already sealed Microsoft’s fate. It will be extremely difficult for Microsoft to compete with free when it comes to Office, even if they do bring it to iOS quickly. But that may be their only option and Apple seems to know it.

“Lost” Steve Jobs Mouse Recovered

At about 2:40 Mountain Time, the mouse that Steve Jobs used during his 1983 IDCA speech was recovered from the Aspen Time Tube. I can not share any pictures yet, but here are some pictures from the conference program that year.

“Lost” Steve Jobs Time Capsule in Aspen Recovered

This is picturesque Apsen, Colorado. I can't share pictures of the dig site yet due to agreement with the production of the show Diggers. Stay tuned!

This is picturesque Apsen, Colorado. I can’t share pictures of the dig site yet due to agreement with the production of the show Diggers. Stay tuned!

As many of my readers may remember, last year I posted The “Lost” Steve Jobs Speech of 1983. I then followed up with another article detailing how a time capsule was buried with the mouse Steve Jobs used during that speech. The “Aspen Time Tube”, as it was called, was intended to be recovered in the year 2000. I wrote that I thought it would be great if the time capsule could be recovered in 2013, the 30th anniversary of the IDCA conference where Steve Jobs gave the 1983 speech. Nothing much came of this until April of this year when I was contacted by a producer of the show Diggers that airs on the National Geographic channel. Long story short, this set into motion a series of events that is culminating now, as I am in Apsen participating in the recovery of the Aspen Time Tube. I can not share much information due to confidentiality agreements with the production, but at this point I can report that the Time Tube itself has been unearthed. Next up is recovering the contents, which include the Lisa mouse that Steve Jobs gave for placement in the Time Tube. I will report as soon as I have my hands on the mouse, so stay tuned!