Reimagining Democracy – Schneier on Security

Reimagining Democracy – Schneier on Security:

What could democracy look like if it were reinvented today? Would it even be democracy —what comes after democracy?

Some questions to think about:

Representative democracies were built under the assumption that travel and communications were difficult. Does it still make sense to organize our representative units by geography? Or to send representatives far away to create laws in our name? Is there a better way for people to choose collective representatives?
Indeed, the very idea of representative government is due to technological limitations. If an AI system could find the optimal solution for balancing every voter’s preferences, would it still make sense to have representatives —or should we vote for ideas and goals instead?
With today’s technology, we can vote anywhere and any time. How should we organize the temporal pattern of voting— and of other forms of participation?
Starting from scratch, what is today’s ideal government structure? Does it make sense to have a singular leader “in charge” of everything? How should we constrain power —is there something better than the legislative/judicial/executive set of checks and balances?
The size of contemporary political units ranges from a few people in a room to vast nation-states and alliances. Within one country, what might the smaller units be —and how do they relate to one another?
Who has a voice in the government? What does “citizen” mean? What about children? Animals? Future people (and animals)? Corporations? The land?
And much more: What about the justice system? Is the twelfth-century jury form still relevant? How do we define fairness? Limit financial and military power? Keep our system robust to psychological manipulation?


Bloomberg: Apple planning to change course, allow third-party app stores and more – Six Colors

Bloomberg: Apple planning to change course, allow third-party app stores and more – Six Colors:

The usually well-sourced Mark Gurman at Bloomberg with the scoop:

Software engineering and services employees are engaged in a major push to open up key elements of Apple’s platforms, according to people familiar with the efforts. As part of the changes, customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.

If this pans out, it’s not only a groundshaking change to a major chunk of Apple’s Services revenue, but also a 180-degree change to what has been probably the most contentious element of the company’s business. Apple hasn’t, of this writing, confirmed the plan.


Crowned CBN Grinding Wheels

Crowned CBN Grinding Wheels:

Crowned CBN (Cubic Boron Nitride) grinding wheels provide a precise, clean, and cool-running alternative to bonded abrasive grit wheels. We worked with Woodturners Wonders to design a wheel specifically for hollow-grinding chisels, plane irons, and other woodworking tools. Joel has long been a proponent of hollow-grinding chisels and plane irons, because it makes honing so much easier. However, for many folks even high-quality bonded abrasive wheels are too dusty, difficult to maintain, or challenging to dress.

[Time to try these.]

Apple advances user security with powerful new data protections – Apple

Apple advances user security with powerful new data protections – Apple:

Apple today introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

The below is a nice touch… I dig it!

Apple introduced two-factor authentication for Apple ID in 2015. Today, with more than 95 percent of active iCloud accounts using this protection, it is the most widely used two-factor account security system in the world that we’re aware of. Now with Security Keys, users will have the choice to make use of third-party hardware security keys to enhance this protection. This feature is designed for users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government. For users who opt in, Security Keys strengthens Apple’s two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of the two factors. This takes our two-factor authentication even further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam.

[Making security easy is really hard. That 95% is pretty amazing outside of corporate you-don’t-have-a-choice settings. Allez!]

Abstraction is Expensive – Speculative Branches

Abstraction is Expensive – Speculative Branches:

Ideally, you would like all of the abstractions you use to have aligned goals with your system. If you can buy a dependency that aligns with your goals, that’s great. If not, you will likely have to “massage” your dependencies to be able to do what you want. This is the first time an abstraction costs you. If you use the wrong database schema (or the wrong technology), you may find yourself scanning database tables when a different schema would do a single lookup. For a non-database example, if you make an electron-based computer game, it will likely be unplayably slow (but you will be able to build it in record time!).

[Abstractions can be a complete drag…]

MarsEdit 5

MarsEdit 5:

MarsEdit 5 features a beautiful new icon, a “Microposting” feature for streamlined short-form blogging, enhanced plain-text editing with built-in Markdown syntax highlighting, a completely rebuilt rich text editor based on Apple’s latest WebKit2 technologies, and a variety of nuanced improvements to make your blogging workflow smoother, and more enjoyable than ever.

[Congrats to Daniel. I’ve been using MarsEdit since its inception (I didn’t want to continue to maintain my own editor “Archipelago” for reasons. MarsEdit was, and is, the solution I chose.)]

Apple announces biggest upgrade to App Store pricing, adding 700 new price points – Apple

Apple announces biggest upgrade to App Store pricing, adding 700 new price points – Apple:

Under the updated App Store pricing system, all developers will have the ability to select from 900 price points, which is nearly 10 times the number of price points previously available for most apps. This includes 600 new price points to choose from, with an additional 100 higher price points available upon request. To provide developers around the world with even more flexibility, price points — which will start as low as $0.29 and, upon request, go up to $10,000 — will offer an enhanced selection of price points, increasing incrementally across price ranges (for example, every $0.10 up to $10; every $0.50 between $10 and $50; etc.).

[Marketing people are a special group.]

‘Very Jewish Christmas’ salutes composers who gifted us with holiday hit parade

‘Very Jewish Christmas’ salutes composers who gifted us with holiday hit parade:

At a time when antisemitism has become unavoidable in the United States, the moment seems ripe for a reminder that Jews have profoundly shaped just about every aspect of American popular culture, including the celebration of Christmas.

More often than not, the songs that define the holiday hit parade were written by Jewish composers, from Irving Berlin’s sublimely nostalgic “White Christmas” to Joan Javits and Phil Springer’s gleefully mercenary “Santa Baby.” Celebrating this singularly American confluence of sincere sentiment and winking kitsch, the show “A Very Jewish Christmas Spectacular” tells the story of how Eastern European immigrants (and their offspring) came to create the Christmas soundtrack.

[All this by Lindsay Bonamassa and Michael Meyer. Yes *that* Bonamassa. Joe’s sister (and no, he’s not Jewish). In a year when there’s been so much hate aimed at the Jews, maybe this will remind a few people of the positive contributions. Maybe. I doubt it. Bah, humbug.]