First came Delta, and now Fox News, Windows 8 is finally getting some commercial love! (Either that or someone on the Windows sales team is on a real heater!) Proving once again that love is found in the most unexpected of places, yesterday FoxNews unveiled a Willy Wonka-esque newsroom complete with miniature looking staffers swiping and snapping away on giant 52 inch Microsoft Perceptive Pixel (aka the original Microsoft Surface) touch screens. Needless to say, legions of Microsoft’s Seattle based engineers will rest easier tonight knowing that the next time Glen Beck reaches for a chalkboard, he’ll pull back a Windows touch device. Liberals should not despair, on the bright side it’s likely that the right wing message of Fox News will ultimately suffer as pundits and anchors wait for their touch screens to restart after installing the latest Windows Update!
BlackBerry: The horse beaten with a thousand sticks
2 weeks ago I wondered if the 4.4 billion dollar buyout offer by Fairfax would finally bring to an end the Fukushima-like meltdown of the once mighty BlackBerry. Like the Chicago Tribune in the Presidential election of 1948, I may have spoken a tad bit soon. The indignities have not ended for BlackBerry as this week brought news of Canada’s largest wireless carrier, Rogers Communication, turning its back on Canada’s tech darling by deciding to not carry BlackBerry’s hail mary Z30 device . Rumor has it that anguished wails of “Et tu Brute?” could be heard ringing through the halls of BlackBerry’s sprawling Waterloo campus upon executives hearing the news. Speaking of that sprawling campus, BlackBerry is rumored to be auctioning off pieces of its corporate headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario in an last grasp at remaining liquid. How far does Alice fall? Reports indicate the vultures have started circling BlackBerry as the company burns through the rest of it’s $2.6 billion cash pile over the next 18 months.
The Silk Road meets its end
The web’s hottest black market startup story came to end this week as the Silk Road was shutdown and seized by FBI . TechCrunch called it the “Amazon.com of drugs” , the FBI knew it as the world’s largest online black market where everything from dime bags to fake ids could be had for the right amount of Bitcoin. Launched in stealth mode at the beginning of 2011, the Silk Road experienced hockey-stick growth after a Gawker story brought the site into the main stream consciousness. For 2 years, the Silk Road taunted authorities as it rang up $1.6 billion in sales while remaining safely hidden in the anonymous Tor network. Well, the Long Dick of the Law finally caught up with the Silk Road as the FBI did the seemingly impossible by locating the server hosting the site and arresting its mysterious 29 year old founder, Ross Ulbricht (aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’).
How did the FBI breach the supposed anonymity promised by the Tor network? Had the NSA managed to slip a backdoor into the Tor protocol?
Nope, turns out the most anonymous of networks can be broken by good ole fashioned detective work. The seeds of Silk Road’s ruin were planted in 2011 when Ulbricht used his gmail account (firstname.lastname@example.org) to create an online job posting looking for a “IT pro in the Bitcoin community” to help manage his “venture backed Bitcoin startup company”. Never mind the NSA backdoors and surveillance, all the FBI needed to crack this kid was a few Google searches!
There is an important startup lesson here kids: if you are going to bootstrap your own black market e-commerce portal, make sure to not use your personal email when talking about it online! The end of the SilkRoad once again proves that no amount of technological wizardry and public-key encryption can overcome the stupidity of man.