The Fed suckered IBM into a failing cloud strategy?

Ginni_RomettyEconomist David Stockman, who is probably best known for being President Reagan’s budget director back in the era of voodoo economics, has been particularly outspoken about IBM as a poster child for bad policy on the part of the U.S. Federal Reserve. How this would be isn’t immediately obvious but I think is worth exploring because IBM is far from the only company so afflicted. There’s an important effect here to be understood about corporate motivations and their consequences.

So I’ll begin with a story. Almost 40 years ago there was a study I worked on at Stanford’s Institute for Communication Research having to do with helping farmers in Kentucky be […]

Bitcoin quietly goes legit

bitcoin-logo-3dThe U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t normally make economic policy but this week they apparently did so by auctioning 30,000 Bitcoins, a crypto currency I have written about before. This auction effectively legitimizes Bitcoins as part of the world economy. Am I the only one to notice this?

My first column on this subject was a cautionary tale pointing out the two great areas of vulnerability for Bitcoin: 1) the US Government might declare Bitcoins illegal, and; 2) someone might gain control of a majority of Bitcoins in which case their value could be manipulated. While number two is still theoretically possible it becomes less likely every day. And number […]

Did the NSA help kill UWB?

2-UWB-1Revisionist history is looking back at past events in light of more recent information. What really happened? And no recent source of information has been more important when it comes to revising the history of digital communications than former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Today I’m really curious about the impact of the NSA on the troubled history of Ultra Wide Band (UWB) communication.

I stumbled on this topic with the help of a reader who pointed me at a story and then a paper about advances in secure communication. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts came up with a method of optical communication that they could […]

When are economic sanctions not sanctions at all?

RussianTrampolineI came across this news story today in which a Russian space official suggests the US consider using trampolines to get astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. It’s all about economic sanctions applied to Russia over its annexation of Crimea and other meddling in Ukraine. The Russian space agency, you see, has been hard hit by the cancellation of at least five launches. Except according to my friends in the space biz Russia hasn’t been hurt at all.

Space customers pay in advance, way in advance. All five cancelled NASA launches were paid for long ago and the same for a number of now-delayed private launches. They may go ahead or not, […]

Net neutrality is dead, but it probably doesn’t matter

 

powellLast week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shot holes in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s version of net neutrality saying the Commission was wrong not in trying to regulate Internet Service Providers but in trying to regulate them as Common Carriers, that is as telephone utilities. The FCC can’t have it both ways, said the Court, and so the Feds get to try all over again. Or will they? I think events are moving so quickly that by the time this particular argument is worked out all the players will have changed and the whole argument may be moot.

If you read the court’s near-unanimous decision they leave the […]