Skip to content

Darren Cohen Posts

What I’m Reading Today

Mitch Landrieu Reminds Us That Eloquence Still Exists – NYTimes.com

But it also addressed matters that are forever tripping us up — race, history, healing — better than anything I’ve heard or read in a long time. It was the masterpiece we needed at the moment we needed it, and I fear that it was lost in the brutal whirl of news these days. It shouldn’t be.


Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.


Tawain’s top court rules in favor of same-sex marriage – The Washington Post

May 24 at 8:32 AM
BEIJING — A Taipei court on Wednesday ruled in favor of allowing same-sex marriage, paving the way for Taiwan to become the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex unions and cementing its status as a beacon for LGBT rights. 


Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

Turkey tests Trump’s patience after protesters roughed up – POLITICO

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara to lodge a formal protest days after Washington police intervened to stop Turkish security officials from beating up protesters. The violence near the Turkish embassy came soon after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House, and video caught Erdogan watching some of the skirmish.


Michael Flynn Misled Pentagon About Russia Ties, Letter Says – NYTimes.com

Mr. Flynn, who resigned 24 days into the Trump administration, told investigators in February 2016 that he had received no income from foreign companies and had only “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals, according to the letter. In fact, Mr. Flynn had sat two months earlier beside President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a Moscow gala for RT, the Kremlin-financed television network, which paid him more than $45,000 to attend th


Microsoft Announces a New Surface Pro, Refreshes Branding and Marketing – Petri

The big story with this new device can be boiled down to a few simple things, new chips, much-improved battery life, refinements to the pen, and expansion of the kickstand. Overall, this is a modest but safe update for the Surface Pro line that should keep fans of this device happy.


Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

Never-Trump Confidential – NYTimes.com

Brothers can share that kind of joke, but for many people now in Trump’s camp, criticizing their leader is a serious offense, and I’ve been hearing from plenty of them. I am a Never-Trump Republican, as we’ve come to be known, part of the alliance of conservatives implacably opposed to the idea of Donald J. Trump becoming president of the United States. It’s a position that has estranged me from a plurality of my own party and put me at odd with friends, family, colleagues and a political movement that increasingly has taken on the character of an angry cult.

From last summer, but still important to read how conservatives are dealing with Trump.


‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It – NYTimes.com

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Mr. Williams says. “I was wrong about that.”

Was he ever wrong about that! He wasn’t the only one, but now what? That is a question for all of us.


Prosecutor: Trump tax issues may echo Nixon | MSNBC

Comparisons between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon have been coming hot and heavy, but Ari Melber has got one you might not have heard much about and it involves tax returns.

A video definitely worth watching


Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

Federalism for the Left and the Right – WSJ

The framers of the Constitution would be pleased with this emerging consensus. By creating a national government with limited powers, they intended to allow the states and local governments to pursue a range of different policies on matters within what used to be called their “police powers”—that is, their authority to regulate behavior, maintain order and promote the public good within their own territory. The founders considered this arrangement the best way to protect liberty and diversity of opinion, as well as to defend political minorities from nationalist tyranny and concentrated power.

I don’t agree with the premise of the article, but it’s a really smart read.


Melania concerned with Spicer’s job performance: report | TheHill

An outside adviser who regularly speaks to the president told Politico that Melania Trump is concerned Spicer is not doing a good enough job in defending her husband.

Preibus leaving trip early, and now this? That part of West Wing should not get comfortable in the new digs.


Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

White House looking at ethics rule to weaken special investigation – sources | Reuters

The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday.


In hometown of Allendale, James Comey is no ‘nut job,’ but principled career man

“I never was crazy about Trump,” J. Brien Comey, 86, a Republican and a former borough councilman, said in an interview. “I’m convinced that he’s nuts. I thought he belonged in an institution. He was crazy before he became president. Now he’s really crazy.”


The humble power of immigrant restaurants: ‘You can’t hate someone if you like their food’ – The Washington Post

Someone could make an argument against me on each accusation, but I think any such discussions need to consider motivation and action. My motivation is to understand cuisines and pass along my knowledge, no matter how limited. My behavior is to enter every unfamiliar restaurant with humility because I know the roles are reversed, and I am the minority in the micro-culture of the immigrant restaurant. I respect this new world and try not to place the values of another restaurant culture upon it. It’s sometimes easier said than done, particularly in a restaurant that doesn’t share the sense of hospitality found at, say, Rose’s Luxury.


A Toothy Strongman Gets a Role at the Met Opera – The New York Times

In what will surely go down in the annals of opera as one of the most unusual auditions ever held at the Met, the British director Phelim McDermott was at the theater on Tuesday evening, casting his new production of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” for next season, when he asked one of the aspirants the usual question: “Do you want to do something?”


Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

F.B.I. Once Warned G.O.P. Congressman That Russian Spies Were Recruiting Him – The New York Times

The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.


Roger Ailes is survived by Trump, Hannity, this awful time.

Ailes leaves behind one of the largest legacies of any media figure of the past century: He made our country nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted. Even as the memory of Ailes the man fades, we will always be able to look back on what he built.


Worldwide effort set to keep Trump happy on 1st trip abroad

In Saudi Arabia, people with knowledge of the planning for Trump’s trip say the caterers are planning to offer the president steak and ketchup alongside the lamb and hefty portions of rice on the menu. All the meat will have been butchered in a Shariah-compliant halal manner as per Islamic custom.


“It’s Time For West Virginia To Rise Up”: A Q&A with Paula Swearengin | New Republic

Now one of those activists seeks to unseat him. Paula Swearengin, 42, is an accounting clerk and single mother of four from Coal City, West Virginia. On March 9, she announced that she would challenge Manchin in the Democratic primary. She is a newcomer to politics and an early beneficiary of Brand New Congress, a political action committee founded by former members of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.


Cuomo distances himself from the state-run MTA

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, following weeks of service failures in New York City’s subways, told reporters Thursday that his responsibility for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority merely consists of appointing a few people to its board, a responsibility shared by Mayor Bill de Blasio and county executives across the state. The state-run authority, he said, is a “regional transportation system.”


What Donald Trump Needs to Know About Bob Mueller and Jim Comey – POLITICO Magazine

The story of that March 11, 2004, showdown—how it came to light and what it says about the motivations and the moral compass of the two men now at the heart of a new Washington showdown—should deeply worry the Trump White House.


Leave a Comment

A Few Unneeded Thoughts on WannaCry

Since everyone is dumping their two cents about WannaCry I was feeling kind of left out.  I have a few thoughts about all this.  The overarching thing is this, the current system is broken.

Since the news broke of the malware late last week this has all started to take on a political war.  Everyone get on your side and start blaming someone.   In times like these we have to remember that nuance is hard, but nuance is needed.  Is Microsoft financially liable for this?  Given that they have been very clear about what gets support and what does not the answer is obviously no.  When it comes to PR that is a different story.  Microsoft released a patch to those paying for extended Windows XP support a few months ago.  This means that Microsoft had the tools in place to stop this outbreak.  Those that paid received it which seems to make sense as long as you don’t consider the fallout of having a huge malware story leading the evening newscast talking about “Microsoft Windows”.  Given that Microsoft quickly released the security update to everyone following the incident they also noticed this.

Last night Microsoft posted this:

The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call. They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world. We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits. This is one reason we called in February for a new “Digital Geneva Convention” to govern these issues, including a new requirement for governments to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them. And it’s why we’ve pledged our support for defending every customer everywhere in the face of cyberattacks, regardless of their nationality. This weekend, whether it’s in London, New York, Moscow, Delhi, Sao Paulo, or Beijing, we’re putting this principle into action and working with customers around the world.

I strongly disagree with this stance from Microsoft.  First if you tell the NSA that they have to turn over everything they find, guess what happens next?  They don’t have the need to do this anymore.  What incentive would our intelligence agencies have to do Microsoft’s work for them?  Microsoft’s job is to sell a product that makes money, the intelligence agencies job is to defend the citizens of the United States of America.  Now the tools, and how they do that is another debate.  If you think that the NSA is going to hand over bugs they find without wanting something back you are living on another planet.  Do we really want a world where the large tech companies have a symbiotic relationship with the CIA, NSA, etc?  Step one in this argument seems easy, where it goes from there is a tad harder.

We have to do something to address this in the future.  One of the big memes that has come out of this mess is that what will happen when your autonomous car is requiring $300 not to drive you off a cliff.  This is a bit much, but it made me think.  Right now car manufacturers are required to pay the cost of repairs and fixes that hit the level of needing a “safety recall” for ten years.  That means they must fix the seatbelt they sold with issues for ten years after the last one is sold.  This is a good starting point for tech.  Operating system and hardware vendors alike must come up with a standard across the industry that all must follow.  I think ten years for security should be that standard for business or institutional related devices.  If every company or government knows that every product they buy has a max of 10 years of shelf life they will be able to budget and plan in a better manner.  It will also allow vendors to offer longer service as a sales point.  I am talking a bare minimum.

We also need a similar setup for consumers.  Google announced last week that their own Pixel phone will get three years of security patches before it is cutoff.  That is three years from launch not from your purchase date.  This is not good enough. Security, not feature, updates should be required for five years from the last day the OEM sells the device.  Tying security to some average wireless contract is just dangerous.  There are many parts of the world where secondary market phones are big business.  You are pretty much telling those customers that their safety and security does not mean anything, and in many cases they live in places where security from their own government is paramount.

How do we do this?  How do we even start this discussion?  I am sure I am wrong about a few details above, and I may be off on how long things should be supported but I am confident in my belief that something has to be done now.  I have zero faith in tech companies doing this on their own.  This is why we have government, and it’s time they act. People look at the word “regulation” as some obstacle.  Remember the next time you get on an airplane that it is government regulation standing between your safety and some airline actuary selling shareholders on how many crashes they can incur before it hurts the bottom line.  Hey we saved a few billion on repairs and only seven planes crashed, pop the champagne as the stock price just went up!

Leave a Comment

What I’m Reading Today

How Trump gets his fake news – POLITICO

Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.


Firing James Comey to impede an investigation isn’t smoke. It’s fire. – Vox 

Some Republicans had stood by Nixon through his firing of the independent counsel investigating the matter, through multiple aides and Cabinet officials resigning, through the White House’s effort to resist subpoenas for documents and tapes. But when the “smoking gun” White House tape was released on August 5, 1974, Nixon’s remaining support from Republicans evaporated. Two days later, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R-PA), House Minority Leader John Jacob Rhodes (R-AZ), and former presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) went to the White House and informed the president that he had no support left in Congress


It’s Early, But the GOP is Already in the Midterm Danger Zone – NBC News 

Just 29% of Americans say they approve of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Comey, while 38% disapprove, according to our new NBC/WSJ poll. Another 32% of respondents don’t have enough to say on the matter. Yet among those who say they have read, seen or heard “a lot” about the firing, 53% say they disapprove, versus 33% who approve. But compare those numbers with these from the same poll: 48% say the health-care legislation that was recently passed by the House and supported by President Trump is a bad idea, versus 23% who call it a good idea. That 25-point gap between good idea and bad idea is larger than the NBC/WSJ poll ever found for Barack Obama’s health-care plan. Back in December of 2013 — following problems with the rollout of the HealthCare.Gov website — 50% had said the Obama plan was a bad idea, versus 34% who said it was a good idea (-16). This past February, however, 43% of Americans called the Obama plan a good idea, while 41% said it was bad (+2).


WannaCry About Business Models – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

The first thing to observe from this timeline is that, as with all Windows exploits, the initial blame lies with Microsoft. It is Microsoft that developed Windows without a strong security model for networking in particular, and while the company has done a lot of work to fix that, many fundamental flaws still remain.

Not all of those flaws are Microsoft’s fault: the default assumption for personal computers has always been to give applications mostly unfettered access to the entire computer, and all attempts to limit that have been met with howls of protest. iOS created a new model, in which applications were put in a sandbox and limited to carefully defined hooks and extensions into the operating system; that model, though, was only possible because iOS was new. Windows, in contrast, derived all of its market power from the established base of applications already in the market, which meant overly broad permissions couldn’t be removed retroactively without ruining Microsoft’s business model.

Leave a Comment

A Cynical View of Windows 10S

I know it will shock many that I am looking at the launch of Windows 10S in a different light.  I am going to start with my conclusion and go from there.  Windows 10S is about finding a different way to keep Windows revenue afloat while they continue to evolve into the Azure and Office company.

A few points:

  • The first selling point from Microsoft is that devices with 10S in a managed environment like a classroom is safer thanks to it being so locked down.  One of the items they mentioned is Microsoft Intune.  Reality check, if you are using Intune you already have the other tools as an administrator to lock down systems to do pretty much what S offers.
  • Another benefit they mentioned is the security of using just apps bought through the Windows Store. Now there is some truth there, however in the next sentence they talk about how easy it is to package your standard Win32 apps and throw them in the store.  Many security experts who I trust have made the point that using Microsoft’s Project Centennial (how you package those old desktop apps for the new world) tarnishes many of the security benefits.
  • Windows 10S locks Windows Edge as your default browser and Bing as your default search engine.  While Microsoft said that other browsers are welcome in the store, you will not be able to change either of those defaults.
    • UPDATE: May 10, 2017 Ed Bott at ZNDET has been told that the original consensus from the press that Google and others could just package their browsers and put them in the store was wrong.  

Now with those points in mind, Windows 10S is about one thing and one thing only.

 

  • Outside of security, what else does the Windows Store do?  Like the App store on iOS and the Google Play store on Android it allows Microsoft to take a 30% cut off the sale of your app.
  • Having Edge and more importantly Bing as your default does what?  It makes Microsoft money.  Like Google, Microsoft monetizes the data used in search and other things.  Unlike Google they do not have that marketshare.
  • Microsoft offers OEMs steep discounts on lower end PCs.  So now you put Windows 10S on those devices allowing Microsoft to make up some of the lost revenue with forcing you into the store and to use Bing.

Here is the real kicker.  Microsoft is allowing you a very easy way to change that Windows 10S install into a full version.  Just hand over $50.  So Microsoft is setting up a system where you either make them money by using the store and Bing, or you can just hand over the $50 making up for the future lost revenue.  This is what some would call the “freemium” model just taken to the OS.

Leave a Comment

MLB Predictions

It’s fun to put these type of things somewhere public so I can look back in October to see how wrong I was.

So here I go…

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Giants

NL Wildcard: Mets

NL Wildcard: Dodgers

AL East: Blue Jays

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Mariners

AL Wildcard: Boston

AL Wildcard: Yankees

NLDS: Mets vs. Cubs/Giants vs. Nationals

NLCS: Mets vs. Giants

ALDS: Boston vs. Indians/Blue Jays vs. Mariners

ALCS: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays

World Series: Red Sox vs. Mets

Winner: Boston Red Sox

Leave a Comment