Bob’s 9/11 post from 20 years ago — To a Man With a Hammer

Some things are worth reading again. For the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, here — unedited — is my column originally published September 13, 2001.

My smarter and handsomer brother was in Northern New Jersey on Tuesday looking across the water at what was for just a moment longer the single remaining tower of the World Trade Center. A cold front had passed through the night before, leaving the day startlingly clear. The carnage was easy to see even from a distance. Only the rising cloud of smoke and ash marred the sky. And then that tower, too, was gone. The magnitude of this disaster and its sister at the Pentagon in Washington is […]

2021 Prediction #5:  Apple (and maybe Google) saves the world

Back on January 23rd, the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Kate Murphy titled America Has a GPS Problem, citing fear at the highest levels of government and industry that international bad actors might bring down the Global Positioning System satellite network, running your Tesla into a guardrail in the process. It’s just the sort of story you’d expect to read here, rather than in the Times, but what the heck. And the story is absolutely correct: we are all in danger. But Ms. Murphy, beyond wringing her hands, doesn’t say how the crisis will be averted or who will do the averting. I predict that Apple will fix the problem […]

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and our personal data

Facebook shares are taking it on the chin today as the Cambridge Analytica story unfolds and we learn just how insecure our Facebook data has been. The mainstream press has — as usual — understood only parts of what’s happening here. It’s actually worse than the press is saying. So I am going to take a hack at it here. Understand this isn’t an area where I am an expert, either, but having spent 40+ years writing about Silicon Valley, I’ve picked up some tidbits along the way that will probably give better perspective than what you’ve been reading elsewhere.

Much of this is old news. There are hundreds — possibly thousands […]

Prediction #7 — 2018 will see the first Alexa virus

There’s a new Marvel superhero series on Fox called The Gifted that this week inspired my son Fallon, age 11, to predict the first Alexa virus, coming soon to an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show cloud device near you. Or maybe it will be a Google Home virus. Fallon’s point is that such a contagion is coming and there probably isn’t much any of us — including both Amazon and Google — can do to stop it.

The Gifted has characters from Marvel’s X-Men universe. They are the usual mutants but the novel twist in this series is that some of these […]

Net Neutrality will die, so let’s take the profit out of killing it.

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission, under the leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, will next week set in motion the end of Net Neutrality in the USA. This is an unfortunate situation that will cause lots of news stories to be written in the days ahead, but I’m pretty sure the fix is in and this change is going to happen. No matter how many protesters merge on their local Verizon store, no matter how many impassioned editorials are written, it’s going to happen. The real question is what can be done in response to take the profit out of killing it?  I have a plan.

The concept of Net […]