RSA takes one for the team, but which team?

RSA_EMCEdward Snowden says (according to Reuters) that RSA Security accepted $10 million from the National Security Agency in exchange for installing (or allowing to have installed) a secret backdoor so the NSA could decrypt messages as it pleased. Hell no says RSA (a division of storage vendor EMC), stating in very strong terms that this was not at all the case. But then in a second day look at the RSA/EMC statement bloggers began to see the company as dissembling, their firm defense as really more of a non-denial denial. So what’s the truth here and what’s the lesson?

For the truth I reached deep into the bowels of elliptic […]

Scarface: He’s got Boris Yeltsin eyes

scarfaceLast Wednesday night I posted my most recent column, turned out the lights in my office, walked down eight stone steps, tripped and smashed my face into the side of our house with a thunk that brought everybody running. Ten stitches and two days later I took the picture you see here in which I look way better. So if anybody wonders why I was a no-show tonight at the Computer History Museum’s reunion for the Homebrew Computer Club, this is my excuse. I can’t see well yet and I sure as heck can’t drive. Woz didn’t make it either I’m told.

I wish I had been at the museum, of course. Those who were […]

The Secret of iOS 7

airplay1The Innovator’s Dilemma, a 1997 book by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, made the point that successful companies can lose their way when they pay too much attention to legacy products and not enough attention to new stuff. They are making so much money they either don’t see a competitor rising up or are too complacent to feel threatened. In either case the incumbent generally loses and the upstart (usually one of many) generally wins. The best way for successful companies to avoid this problem is by inventing the future before their competitors do.

We see this pattern over and over in high tech. Remember Lotus? Remember Word Perfect? Remember Borland? And it’s not just in software. […]

Accidental Empires, Part 3 — Preface to the original 1991 edition

accidental-195x300The woman of my dreams once landed a job as the girls’ English teacher at the Hebrew Institute of Santa Clara. Despite the fact that it was a very small operation, her students (about eight of them) decided to produce a school newspaper, which they generally filled with gossipy stories about each other. The premiere issue was printed on good stock with lots of extra copies for grandparents and for interested bystanders like me. The girls read the stories about each other, then read the stories about each other to each other, pretending that they’d never heard the stories before, much less written them. My cats do something like that, too, I’ve noticed, when they […]

Who’s your daddy? Intel swoons for Apple

Just days after I wrote a column saying Apple will dump Intel and make Macintosh computers with its own ARM-based processors, along comes a Wall Street analyst saying no, Intel will be taking over from Samsung making the Apple-designed iPhone and iPod chips and Apple will even switch to x86 silicon for future iPads. Well, who is correct?

Maybe both, maybe neither, but here’s what I think is happening.

Apple is dependent on Samsung for making most of its Cupertino-designed chips, yet Apple has grown to hate Samsung over time, seeing the Korean company as an intellectual property thief. So Apple wants out of the relationship, this much is clear to everyone.