Technology

Musk’s Tesla call to build it, and they will come

Tesla car

 

So Tesla CEO Elon Musk has thrown the cat among the pigeons and declared that Tesla will open up their patents on their inventions. His collective call to industry is to take action to ‘build it, and they will come.’ The industry being those making electric cars and the chargers, the ‘they’ being the purchasers of these cars. Musk’s press release from mid June is here: All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Why is Musk doing this?

Let’s be blunt. Tesla are forerunners in the electric car market but there can be no market (of any scale) unless they build a huge charging network. So if that doesn’t happen then Tesla can’t sell cars. No supply means no real market. But on a larger scale is he being philanthropic with their hard-earned patents? Or is it just great marketing? Personally, I see patents are being barriers, not enablers, of new products.

Why are patents stifling competition?

Patents were designed to give protection, for a defined period of time, to offset the huge amount of R&D that some products need like drugs for example. Bring new drugs to market can take years and huge amounts of money and in the absence of patents companies simply won’t invest, as competitors can enter at any stage,  so we can’t avail of these new drugs.

But…the downside is that patents are used to block technology more than enable it. Consider IBM who were awarded 6809 patents in 2013. They have been the highest patentee for over 20 years. Many of these are created to simply block other players from getting a foothold. Then you get to patent stalemate and have companies registering patents as blockers, not enablers.

Can’t we bypass patents to allow invention and innovation?

There is a way around this, without infringing on patents and ending up fighting legal cases. Elon Musk, and others, are opening up patents once they are used within ‘good faith’. Twitter, in 2012, announced that they would allow others to access their patents and would only invoke them ‘in defence’ which is great. As far as I know, but could be wrong, Twitter let their staff register the patent instead of themselves. It means they manage to retain great inventors in the organisation as the creator still gets the IP on the patent. Please add a comment if I’m not correct on that.

In the 80s IBM opened their technology with their ‘open architecture’ which created the market for PCs as other companies could then use their blueprints. So it has been proven to allow small markets rapidly scale.

Is Elon Musk a modern-day Bruce Wayne type Batman character who uses his fortune for the good of mankind? I’m not so sure. But would I buy an electric car? You bet I would if I could afford it, and could charge it when I drove. 
Electric car

Will TrueCrypt rise from the dead?

For most people hearing that the TrueCrypt encryption software has potentially gone end-of-life in a hurry will be a non-event. For those who are concerned with IT security it’s a whole other issue and is a big worry. It’s still very unclear whether this is some form of hoax.

I’d agree with other commentators and not panic. We’ll get more information shortly and if it’s true then it’s time to look at the many migration options. My instinct is that it’s a hoax, but other signs suggest it’s not.

There’s more information here if you want to dig deeper:

True Goodbye: ‘Using TrueCrypt Is Not Secure’

Open Source Crypto TrueCrypt Disappears With Suspicious Cloud Of Mystery

TrueCrypt’s Web Site Updates with Ominous Warning, Details Unknown

Follow @davidcoleman99 on Twitter.

 

True crypt

 

 

AirSpeed Telecom win European award

Great news that AirSpeed Telecom’s CEO (@AirSpeedTelco) won the award for Entrepreneur of the Year at the European Business Awards. I’ve used their services in the past and their level of service and dedication was unmatched. This award is no surprise to me. Well done to Liam O’Kelly and AirSpeed TelecomAirSpeed winners

The ever-growing Irish

Really great home news story from Blacknight Solutions on opening their new Irish data centre. They’ve managed to sustain excellent levels of customer service over the years while ever-expanding. Service often suffers with expansion; not with Blacknight! Well done gang on the new data centre.

Blacknight Irish data centre launchPreview

Dropbox outage and time to consider how to manage your data saved to the Cloud?

Dropbox-logo_610x342

So at this stage it’s looking like the Dropbox outage on the 10th Jan 2014 was a technical issue and not a hack. The official Dropbox status update is here if you want to read more on what Dropbox say occurred.

But even if it wasn’t a hack it’s still no harm to consider how to secure your data that is saved to Dropbox and other Cloud services. This article offers a few thoughts on ways to better secure your data in the cloud. To consider it another way how many of us would give a box of photocopied pages of our most personal or sensitive files to an organisation to store then, often without us ever paying them, expect them to hold them potentially for a very long time, without accessing them and keeping them secure for ‘baddies’? Well, that’s often what we do with cloud services. So, I’m advocating we still use cloud services to store files but are maybe a little more informed of how we secure the data.

Aren’t my files safe and encrypted when in the cloud?

Well….it depends on the service you use. All good providers should encrypt the data as it goes between your computer or device and their cloud. Most should encrypt it while ‘at rest’ on their network as do Dropbox. But then they hold the encryption keys so if the system is compromised the encryption ‘keys’ can also be compromised, meaning your data is potentially accessible. Here’s a good article (August 2013) on why your data might not be encrypted or as secured as you think.

Many others have listed programs that allow you automatically encrypt your data with cloud services like Dropbox. So I’d encourage people to consider these services as being timely now. Cloudfogger, just as an example, is one of these; it’s free and very easy to use for even technical novices. There are many, many others and this article offers a comparison a 3 popular ones.

Or you can manually encrypt the data yourself with other programs, but I expect there is more likelihood some data goes to the cloud unencrypted.

Other easy steps to make your data more secure in the cloud:

It’s also worth considering and noting where you store data online as we probably all have older cloud service accounts we created and aren’t too sure what we saved where.

You can often enable extra layers of login security for these cloud services. Many, including Dropbox, now have ‘2-step verification’ that can send an SMS message to your phone with a code (or via a smartphone app) to protect your account from being hacked. But that won’t protect your data if the whole system gets hacked or compromised. Here’s the Dropbox info on how to enable the free ‘2-step verification’.

Downsides of encrypting data before uploading it to a cloud service:

There are downsides of course. It can range for being inconvenient (you can’t easily upload files from a smartphone when using services like Cloudfogger to encrypt for example) to potentially being completely unable to access your data if you lose your encryption keys (usually just a password) and don’t know that encryption password. But there are ways around these issues usually.

To wrap up I’d say to keep enjoying the accessibility and ease that saving files to cloud services allows. But maybe know and record what you save online and where. Plus, consider what parts of this should be better secured with encryption or stronger login methods like 2-step verification.

You are way too smart to read why technology needs to go on a short holiday each day

The ultimate guide to unplugging (infographic) - header imageThis infographic from just before Christmas tells us things we, as adults, already know but often forget; mainly how to ‘switch off’ from technology. Now, there is a certain irony to going to a website to find out how to switch off temporarily from the world, but there you go. There’s certainly no science in it. But it’s a good reminder so we don’t use technology as the crutch to get us through the mundaneness of January. Enjoy!