Tag Archives: Wired

BLUD

A few years back, I invested for a time in a blood testing company called Immucor (Ticker: BLUD). They followed the razor / razorblade model so popular today – sell your razor around or at cost while charging nice margins on the razorblades. The custom testing reagents had lofty profit margins.

One of the only drawbacks was the potential for “artificial blood” to come to market, something that sounds a bit further off based on this Wired article. Too bad I sold the stock, missing out on a fantastic run.

Security & Freedom of Speech

I had a passing interest over the past few weeks about the MIT students who were planning to present their research in to the flaws associated with the Boston “T”‘s transit card that make it possible for someone to “hack” the system. It was disappointing to see the response of the transit authority, filing a lawsuit to try to block release of the information, as opposed to actively working to eliminate the flaws in the system. This is especially disappointing in light of the fact that the transit authority had advanced notice of the vulnerabilities in the system and of the presentation and waited until the last minute to sue to block the release.

Bruce Schneier, commenting in Wired, argues that “Full Disclosure” is the only real motivation for companies and groups to fix their vulnerabilities as opposed to trying to force secrecy on all those who discover them. As an avid techie, I fully believe that it is only full disclosure that makes software and security systems stronger. The only incentive companies have is the fear of losing customers and the liability that might exist should it be clear that the company knew that the vulnerability existed but instead decided to ignore it. Full disclosure makes it clear to everyone that the vulnerability exists, preventing the responsible party from hiding or shirking their duty to plug the hole. His historical write-up makes it clear that only fully disclosing the vulnerability spurs action; otherwise denials and complaints about potential losses abound.

And as Bruce notes, “[t]he Dutch court got it exactly right when it wrote: ‘Damage to NXP is not the result of the publication of the article but of the production and sale of a chip that appears to have shortcomings.'”

Life Imitating Art

Having traveled the world, the evolution of English has been a fascinating phenomenon to witness first hand.

Thanks to globalization, the Allied victories in World War II, and American leadership in science and technology, English has become so successful across the world that it’s escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be. In part, this is because there are fewer of us: By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.

It’s true. I think back, for instance, to all the fantasy stories I read in the early 90s where there existed a kind of “common” language that enabled various groups to communicate with each other, when they had no other languages in common. It’s fascinating to see how English is taking on that role on a global scale. Of course, the ultimate evolution of English is represented in Firefly.

Of course, this must drive the persctipvies nuts.