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?

Why Obamacare is NOT Good for Small Businesses

Obama Doctor GloveI stumbled upon an article on the web site of The New Yorker titled, “Why Obamacare is Good for Small Businesses.” As a small business owner myself, in addition to being well connected with many other small business owners across the country, I found the title of the article curious. All evidence to the contrary, Obamacare has been terrible for businesses in this country, small or otherwise. But I took the bait anyway and read the article just in case the author had come across some worthwhile knowledge.

Given the matter-of-fact tone of the title, boldly exclaiming that Obamacare is good for small business, the article reveals itself to be little more than conjecture. As stated in the first paragraph “… Obamacare may well be the best thing Washington has done for American small business in decades.” Later on the article states, “… the likely benefits of Obamacare for small businesses are enormous.” These two statements should be red flags that the author isn’t stating fact, but merely speculating why he thinks Obamacare might be good.

The article first talks about the employer mandate which only affects businesses of 50 or more employees. He out-of-hand dismisses the impact that Obamacare will have on the overall economy because he claims ninety-six percent of businesses in this country have fewer than 50 employees. I won’t argue this point because I’m not a business owner with over 50 employees. Plus this argument doesn’t explain why Obamacare will actually be good for small business, as the article’s title proclaims. Rather it simply tries to refute arguments why it will be bad. Regardless, simple observation of news headlines shows that large numbers of employers are in fact making workforce reductions because of Obamacare. At the very least this appears to be a significant enough trend to warrant further scrutiny, instead of simply shrugging off the very real ramifications this will have on very real people.

The first affirmative argument the author attempts is that Obamacare will make it easier for people to start their own business. The justification being that starting a business was risky because finding affordable health insurance was not guaranteed. People would prefer staying employed to keep their health insurance through their employer rather than try to find private health insurance. This phenomenon, labeled as “job lock”, I agree exists, but not to the extent that the author claims. Certainly one barrier to starting a business is finding health insurance. But starting a business is risky all the way around. Finding health insurance is a risk that can be mitigated (or at least could be until Obamacare). First, many people starting businesses join their spouse’s plan when possible. I know many examples of entrepreneurs who got around job lock in this way. Second, while there is no guarantee of finding affordable health insurance, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to verify this one way or the other. Someone considering starting their own business will know for sure if they can find affordable insurance with just a few phone calls. The simple “threat” of not finding affordable health insurance won’t actually stop someone from starting a business (at least not anyone who is serious). True, if someone actually can’t find affordable health insurance that might stop them from starting a business. But the author gives no supporting evidence to show that this is truly a problem. And if job lock actually was a problem, Obamacare has definitively made this situation significantly worse!

I run my own business consisting of myself and my wife as the only employees. When I launched this business full-time over 11 years ago, initially I went on my wife’s health insurance plan. That lasted about a year until my wife was downsized. Since that point, about 10 years ago, we have had private insurance. We too were initially fearful at the loss of our health insurance that we received from her employer. And while we did end up paying more once we went private, it was a lot less than many people were telling us it would be. While our private health insurance costs have increased steadily year over year, we recently received a letter from our health insurance company stating that our premium had gone up significantly. Additionally, the plan we currently have can not be renewed after December 31st of this year (hmmm … I wonder why?). The new plans they offer cost even more than our newly increased premium and have a higher deductible. Shopping around so far shows that other insurance carriers show similar trends. Obamacare has definitely effected my personal economy in a negative way. But I guess that’s an impact that is too small for the author to care about.

It would be one thing if my family’s siutation was an anomaly. But I’ve heard from many other business owners that they received the same news from their insurance companies as well. I’m actually lucky. My increase, while significant enough, is small compared to some other stories I’ve been personally made aware of. And if you don’t take my word for it, perhaps you’d take the word of another small business owner? Or if that isn’t enough, perhaps you’d take the word of people who championed Obamacare and voted for Obama twice? They’ve been shocked to find their private healthcare costs have skyrocketed recently.

The author states that Obamacare could enable 1.5 million people to become self-employed by eliminating “job lock”. The reality is that if health insurance “job lock” was keeping people from starting their own business, Obamacare has just thrown away the key. The increased cost of private health insurance due to Obamacare is yet another example of big government intrusion hurting entrepreneurship and the little guy.

The author then goes on to state that Obamacare will provide tax credits to small businesses that want to insure their employees, evening the playing field with large companies. He also states that “community rating” will restrict insurance companies from charging certain small businesses more due to higher risk employees. First, insurance costs are based on risk for good reason. It allows companies to charge fairly. Those with higher risk are more likely to use insurance, therefore are more costly to carry. But those with less risk benefit from lower premiums. As Obamacare has now proven with individual private insurance, if insurance companies can’t charge higher premiums due to higher risk, then they must charge everyone higher premiums! Just as I and many other business owners who have private insurance must now pay higher premiums due to Obamacare’s mandates, what do we think is going to happen to the cost of health insurance for small business? Obamacare will in fact further de-incentivize small businesses from carrying health insurance for their employees. I don’t think this supports the author’s assertion that Obamacare will be good for small business.

Interestingly the author points out that the fact most Americans get health insurance through work is a “historical accident”. During World War II, the government forced private businesses to freeze wages. In an attempt to work around what the government had done to the free market, employers started offering health insurance and benefits as a way to increase overall compensation. He then states that Congress gave corporations tax incentives after the war to keep providing health insurance (blaming conservatives and doctors for stymying the creation of universal health care, as if government-run health insurance is something to aspire to). What the author fails to point out is that this “accident” was caused by government interference in the free market. If government hadn’t instituted unconstitutional wage freezes and then given tax breaks only to corporations for providing health insurance (why had tax levels risen to such high levels that tax “breaks” were significantly beneficial and why didn’t they give tax breaks to small businesses and individuals?) then the whole “job lock” situation wouldn’t exist today. Hmmm … the overreach of government caused this problem? I wonder what other problems government overreach has caused?

The battle over Obamacare truly is a big waste of time and energy. Obamacare ultimately is just a symptom of a bigger problem. The real issue we all must deal with is the high cost of health care and the correspondingly high cost of health insurance. At the root of the problem lies big government. As the article titled, “Let’s Make Health Care Inexpensive Again,” correctly points out, the cost of health care and health insurance has steadily increased in direct proportion to the amount of government interference in the health care industry. Note that this article was written in 2002! As recently as the 1950′s, this country had the highest standard of health care at a fraction of what it costs today,  health insurance was available to nearly everyone – even people with pre-existing conditions, and doctors made house calls. As an example of the costly encroachment of government, the article points out that every time the government forces an insurance company to cover a particular medical procedure, the cost of insurance goes up for everyone. 11 years later, this should have been obvious to most people, but if it wasn’t, Obamacare has just made it painfully obvious to the entire country.

Instead of tackling the real cause of skyrocketing health insurance costs – big government overreach and interference in healthcare – Obamacare has doubled-down on failed policies, virtually guaranteeing that healthcare costs will continue to rise – except this time it will be a rise of unprecedented proportions. I’m not sure what the author was thinking, but increased healthcare costs aren’t good for anyone. Obamacare is definitely NOT good for small business.

Obama and Apple

President, I've worked with Apple. I know Apple. Apple is a friend of mine. President, you're no Apple.

Obama, I’ve worked with Apple. I know Apple. Apple is a friend of mine. Obama, you’re no Apple.

As usual, please read my Obligatory Obama Disclaimer if you haven’t already.

As expected, the rollout of the online Obamacare exchanges was plagued with issues. In an effort to make excuses, Obama compared the launch of his exchanges with the release of Apple’s iOS 7 just a couple of weeks earlier. He said Apple found a glitch at release, fixed it, and nobody was suggesting that Apple should be shut down. He suggested that we should give Obamacare the same latitude while it works through its glitches, even after they’ve had 3 years to get it ready. Well, Mr. Obama, you started this game, so let’s take your comparison for a little spin, shall we?

If Apple had a record of terrible programs and systems like that of the federal government, they wouldn’t be the most valuable tech company in the world. They’d be more like … well … Microsoft. Obamacare is to the federal government what Windows 8 is to Microsoft: disasters of unprecedented scale that threaten to bankrupt their creators.

Like Windows 8, if Apple had put out such a terrible system, a system that many experts predicted would be awful, there would have been a huge uproar from their customers. Why is Obama so surprised that his “customers” are pushing back?

Unlike Obamacare, if I don’t like a product Apple puts out I can choose not to buy it. Apple’s products don’t cause other increases in my cost of living. And Apple damn sure doesn’t forcibly take my money if I refuse to buy their products.

Comparing a socialist program like Obamacare – supported by forced taxation, coercion, and threats of violence to ensure compliance – to a product developed in free market – in which customers freely make the choice to purchase – is a slap in the face to the principles this country was founded upon.

Happy Shutdown Day!

Government Shut DownDon’t worry, I guarantee the “shutdown” of the United States federal government will not last very long. Those who stand to lose the most from a prolonged shutdown are the establishment politicians. A protracted shutdown of “non-essential” federal government services will only serve to show the people just how non-essential they really are. Which will then make people start questioning why the federal government is handling those operations in the first place. Establishment politicians need their entitlement programs as leverage to get reelected. If entitlement programs start disappearing, this opens the door wider for small-government politicians to get into office. So again, don’t worry about the shutdown. The federal government will soon start spending our money (plus money it doesn’t have) at the same voracious rate it was before – likely even faster once the politicians make their deals.

The only thing I wish we would see is a tax break for every day the federal government was shutdown. If people would actually see a larger paycheck because they weren’t paying taxes on the days the government was shut down we’d see some serious reduction of government!

In the meantime, celebrate the idea of a government shutdown, even if it only lasts a little while. The reality is that the federal government in a partial shut down is much closer to the government the founders envisioned and that ran the country during the early days. You know, when the United States was truly considered the land of opportunity. Perhaps a little taste of small government might help us return to those days.

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.