Tag: computer

Success, and failure, with the systems

I am not a lawyer. Let’s repeat, I am not a lawyer. But I am not a criminal (as far as I know), and I am a laptop encryption user (and a fervent believer in it). Now, I am going to opine on a story…

A guy, one Joseph Edward Duncan II, is accused of murder and kidnapping (i.e. the parents were murdered, and the children were kidnapped). The FBI confiscated a laptop of his, and despite their best efforts, they can’t crack its encryption.

The computer key may provide Duncan some negotiating leverage in the next few weeks when authorities file federal charges that are expected to carry the death penalty. ‘Federal authorities are going to attempt to execute my client,’ said Roger Peven, Duncan’s federal public defender. ‘This is something I’d be happy to talk with federal authorities about.’ Peven is the only person other than Duncan to have seen some of the contents of the laptop. He has declined to say what he saw on the computer.

What is right with this picture is that encryption works. If you are storing sensitive personal and business documents on your machine, I’d bet a thief is not going to get into it any easier that the FBI, if properly encrypted. What a great system.

What is wrong with that picture? Well, this human (if you can call him that), killed a family so he could kidnap a couple of innocent kids to satisfy his sick sexual desires. Authorities found one dead child and another in a terrible state. Duncan plead guilty. Now his lawyer, who has seen the laptop contents, is using the laptop as leverage to keep Duncan alive.

Very sad system indeed.

Plug-n-Play and the Dumbing Down of America

As a whole, Americans are not keen to learn about computer technology. If you are proficient in multiple platforms, an amateur or professional coder, or a network admin (present or former), I think you know what I mean. Someone recently commented to me, “Boy, would I be happy to work in an organization where I wasn’t the CFO’s personal tech assistant.” That is sad. Even at the upper echelons of Corporate America, people just don’t understand, or want to understand, computing. They would rather let someone else do it for them. In other words, they are lazy, and laziness is going to hurt.

Some say “I don’t have time for that stuff.” Well, they had time to learn how to drive their fancy new car, program time, date, and content settings on their TIVO, and plug in that new Xbox (just be careful with the plug…!) But they don’t seem to want to learn anything about the next device to become a staple consumer product in our increasingly connected world, the personal computer.

It is not all their fault.