Friday, November 17, 2006

last day of singledom - the onion

so, i was thinking of ruminating on a life of singledom completed but have decided against it. there's simply nothing i can say about it that anyone hasn't heard already. it was loads of fun, i've lived the life of several men combined but am more than happy to set those days aside and put on the ring tomorrow. piece of cake my friend, i'm ready.

now that i've got that out of the way, let me introduce you to my good pal, the onion. she joined the family as part of a mystery box of goodies that my aunt janet and uncle ed purchased at an auction in toledo, ohio (or somewhere nearby). from there, she has been given as a gift around the family so many times over she's become her own rich tradition. here's the little girl herself, stereophonically equipped.

so she has been handed over to me yet again (had her before and pawned her off on my god child as part of an easter basket!). jane and i have already managed to introduce her to a new friend, think he'll get lucky?

given the bridal veil, it's looking real good for my little pal i liberated from a tokyo toy shop to hold my loose coins many moons ago (about 6 years to be exact).

awww yeah, we warned 'em about what happens to an onion in LA... all blinged out with a new 'fro and chain. what's next?? just wait and see when the onion goes to oz and jane and i take off on the next big adventure of life 2gether...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

my experience as a pseudo-vegetarian

"you should probably lose 5-10 pounds this year". that's what set it in motion earlier this year. i couldn't believe what i was hearing from the doctor reading back my physical results but i understood it. my body mass index for my height was a little excessive, but not bad (5'8", 175lbs) given that i was fit and wearing a bit of that excess as muscle (but certainly not all). the rest of everything else (cholesterol, heart rate, etc.) was good, i just needed to shed a few pounds. i sort of knew this already, i'd made myself a promise i would stay at 32 waist pants back in college and had since crept up to a snug 33".

i had no interest in going on a diet but rather wanted to learn about nutrition. set out to find a book on nutrition and reading websites.

i admittedly started down a little bit of a rabbit hole by exploring colonic irrigation since it's been a hot topic of late. after reading about it, pros and cons, i have little interest. it's just not natural to shove a tube up yer can and pump gallons of water through your innards. chances are nothing will go wrong but if it does, you can perforate your colon (split the sucker in 2). bad idea, no matter how many marbles and sticks of swallowed chewing gum i might have in my gut. the interesting thing about it though was how much undigested or partially digested red meat ppl had in their systems. i made a mental note of this. i started eating more fish, less meat and dropped about 3 pounds over the next 2-3 months. not bad. little change that was easy, sustainable and had good results.

as i searched further, just about the only book i found about nutrition rather than a diet pitch was the china study. admittedly, even this author ends up advocating a vegan diet in the end. the book is a little dogmatic at times and you get the point about mid-way through, but well worth sticking it out through the end where campbell breaks down his conspiracy stories on the national dairy board and other govt/lobbying groups paid by companies to manipulate the nutritional facts to their benefit.

i won't give away the book, but the idea is that lots of bad things happen when you eat a diet rich in animal protein and not enough plants and whole foods. basically, the traditional american diet sucks, ppl are too fat, and doctors are stuck in a reactive mode and do not advocate nutrition which can prevent or mitigate many of the diseases of affluence afflicting westerners today (e.g. heart disease, diabetes).

after reading the book (truthfully i started reducing animal protein early in my reading), examining counter-arguments and dramatically reducing my animal protein intake (i eat meet every 2-3 days now and limit cheese and dairy), here's my personal take and experience on vegan/vegetarianism as well as the x-files style conspiracy theories:

- i've lost about 6-7 add'l pounds and am back down to a 32" waist size. i'm weighing in around 165 and feeling good. didn't happen over night but that's fine by me. i'd like to shave off another 4-5 but would need to cut back on booze to do this. that's gonna take a while, i like beer too much and want my glass of red at the end of the day :-)

- eat lots of fruits and vegetables and don't worry about calories or carbs so much. nothing wrong with wholegrains and the like. i eat more frequently than i did before, enjoy it just as much and don't sweat it when there's nothing but meat available. fine by me, i'm still ok with knowing an animal died to feed me. top of the food chain baby!!!!

- vegan is nearly impossible and likely unnecessary. it's not unnatural to eat meat and most benefits are obtained by simply reducing animal protein intake to 10% or less. anyone who is vegan does not travel for business much or starves.

- vegetarian is not that hard in cali but really hard in the austin airport (haven't these ppl ever heard of a bean burrito?) and was nigh impossible in south america. nonetheless, it's been a lot easier than i expected and a lot more natural than counting calories or trying to reduce carbs. alternatively, i think there's far too many vegetarians who end up unhealthy b/c they substitute eating meat for consuming lots of other animal proteins (mostly dairy) or junk starches. they'd be better off eating meat and a healthy diet in my estimation.

- supplements are unnecessary. just eat healthy stuff. the body is too complex to expect to properly absorb all the needed nutrients in a pill. not to mention this being a completely unnatural means of acquiring nutrients.

- western medicine seems largely broken. it is based on reactive measures, lacks any solid nutritional advocacy and is poisoned by big drug company motivations. prevention is not easy but a lot better than relying upon expensive drugs & doctors who know little or nothing about nutrition

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

new releases: hybrid, damien rice

before i get into the new stuff, i picked up the owusu and hannibal album and i'm favorably impressed. it's sort of experimental soul music, playing with broken beats and non-traditional song formats. truthfully not all of it works but i think it's well worth 10-15 bucks. great first release from the duo.

hybrid finally delivered another album worthy of the story they began to write with "wide angle", which is one of my fave dance albums of all time. "i choose noise" is a little darker than wide angle but it's a return to form for hybrid after a craptacular sophomore release (morning sci-fi) which was offensively boring. it's got all the big progressive breaks along with orchestral backing which provides a texture/lushness that few other dance artists come close to. it even has a collab with perry farrel (dogstar) which doesn't suck, which is no mean feat in my estimation. the track with Kirsty Hawkshaw is good, as to be expected. all told, this is the best dance album i've heard in a long time, smoking recent releases by a guy called gerald, lay and bushwacka as well as junkie XL.

i haven't had the chance to listen to it yet (pondering downloading it via itunes for our honeymoon) but damien rice has a new album out called "9". the reviews are fairly strong and from my sampling of the album it sounds like a worthy follow-up to the amazing album "O" which he debuted with. the lead track "9 Crimes" sounds like the stand-out. damien gets a little naughty on this album by dropping a bunch of f-bombs, scoring himself an "explicit lyrics" label. maybe a joint project with 50 cent and chingy is right around the corner?

Monday, November 06, 2006

da speakin' circuit

I’ve been on the speaking circuit of late, doing a workshop in sacramento on cyber satefy, another in Buenos aires on the threat landscape and how to protect yourself, and finally today in DC on “communicating in the next tech-ade” for the FTC. Everytime I hit the road and do a preso, I invest time in the content to make certain I know what I’m talking about. Seems pretty logical but you’d be staggered to find out how many ppl don’t do this. They’re either freakin’ brilliant, or careless. The latter is the case more so than the former. Having said all this, I figured I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned over the last 3-4 weeks.

CA cybersummit
It’s time to own up to facts that kids are the new content creators and the de facto owners of the internet. Nothing spells this out like the interactive poll below taken at the cybersummit, stating that adults have much more to learn from kids than vice versa about online safety. Ouch. What’s clear though is that kids lack the life skills that adult’s have which allow them to sniff out bad actors. The question is how many kids will listen to adults who don’t have any clue about what’s happening online? Dunno.

Did you know that "cut and paste" aka Internet plagiarism is now an online business extending into the 8-figures? Crazy, eh? Just type in “free essay” and see what you get. Millions of entries touting online “copy and paste” plagiarism. There’s even one that sells an essay on ethics, including plagiarism, which costs just shy of 100 bucks. There’s some irony there somewhere…. Clearly that time you leaned over Suzy’s shoulder to scam her math test was all amateur work, we’ve got a whole new ballgame on our hands here.

IDC in Buenos aires
Ok, so I’ll admit that I didn’t learn as much prep’ing for this one. It was pretty much straight forward “what’s happening and how do I protect myself?” nonetheless, I can tell you that I learned that it’s perfectly ok to hire women in skimpy wardrobes to pitch your products. At least in South America. Have I mentioned this before? :-)

Unrelated non-work thought: You eat a cow in India and you get thrown out of the country, you don’t eat a cow in argentina and you risk the same punishment. Hmmmm….

FTC “next tech-ade” workshop
This one was interesting! Plenty of prep and some downright fascinating stats. I’ve already pretty much posted my preso but consider the following data…

-about 2.5 billion ppl carry a hand-held phone (mobile), this knocks the socks off of PCs
-there are 800 million registered IM users in China alone, 200 million of which are active
-the population of second life is growing at a little under 1000% per annum, 30%+ month over month!!!!
-The average age of the SL player is 32
-The economy of SL is growing at 270% annually or 15% month/month
-You can buy a Toyota car inside of SL for $2—even with zero % financing and a great trade-in, you’re not getting that from the dealer.

Extra cool thing is I got to meet Esther Dyson here, who I happen to think is pretty cool. She’s written some insightful stuff and has been a leading force behind the EFF. I always thought that if I met Esther I would let her know that I really liked her adware analogy which I’ve used from time to time. So when I met her, I told her such and then predictably someone asked her what it was. She proceeded to rattle off the wrong analogy. Argh. Ah well….

All told, a nice dialogue ensured following our little speeches at the event and the FTCers were brought up to speed on our crystal ball gazing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

next tech-ade, thoughts now congealing...

alright, i've had the chance to think this one through over the past couple days and here's where i'm at with my little intro speech for the FTC hearings next week.

oh yeah, before we get into the serious stuff, happy belated halloween! here's a shot of the great jack-o-lantern carving contest of 2222 6th street 2006! we have all the skills of 4th grade art students who snorted too many smarties :-) jane's is the odd rendition of a W hotel as a pumpkin (car parked in the back no less), mine is the "country bumpkin pumpkin" with a tumorous forehead, and doug's is the slightly unnerving "throw-up, throw-back" jack-o-lantern.

alright back to the semi-serious stuff. ahem.

- to begin, there's good news. increasing user awareness of web-based hacks in addition to technical developments in web browsers and security software will put a serious dent in the number of successful web attacks within the next 12-24 months. this means less spyware, trojan horse programs, etc. installed in a "drive by" fashion with no semblance of user control or consent.

- nonetheless, after the white chess piece moves to block the black chess piece's latest affront, the black piece maneuvers yet again to the offensive: instant messaging. what makes it attractive?
a) increasing usage, esp. among teens
b) increasingly used to xfer potentially executable content (images, movies, etc.) which can be malware or infected with malware
c) readily available buddy list for spreading to others with a convincing message (it will appear to come from the victim)
d) relatively virgin ground, gets under the radar
e) compatibility barriers are dropping across IM networks allowing for more widespread attacks across networks (i.e. Yahoo + MSN)

let's look a little further ahead. convergence is happening. the smart device is a few years away from allowing us to use a phone, media player, web, IM, payment/wallet, tv, office apps, etc. in a reasonably sized hand-held device. these won't be the only communications devices we use, kiosk, laptops and PCs will also be used without a doubt, but the potential mkt for handheld devices (e.g. smart phones and otherwise) is greater than that of dedicated computing devices.

more importantly though, bandwidth is rapidly expanding and high speed access costs are diminishing. high speed wifi will be the reality in contrast to today's low speed mobile networks. online services are improving thanks to AJAX and other web 2.0 technologies as well as a stiff competition and a strong pioneering spirit. what does this mean for future threats?

it means they will not focus on attacking devices, but on attacking online services since the network, esp. the web, becomes the platform rather than the device as the PC was in the past. (devices are difficult to exploit b/c there will be so many different types, this has already greatly limited mobile malware) we saw the first serious web 2.0 style worms this year ripple through webmail, affecting over 100,000 users in 24 hours. it never touched a single system, it only existed in webspace on the affected service's computers.

nonetheless, threats will not focus so much on exploiting *security* flaws in the future as they will focus on exploiting user error and naivety. there are far more vulnerable ppl than there are vulnerable web services, esp. considering the constant influx of new internet users and the ramp-up required to develop online street smarts. phishing and other forms of online fraud, false security programs such as rogue antispyware, 419 scams and all sorts of other online sleaze are already moving in to take the place of today's drive-by installs, network worms and mass mailers. the white chess piece blocks, the black chess piece moves to the next advantageous square.

the real wildcard here is what happens with the exciting arena of virtual worlds, such as Second Life and World of WarCraft. they're growing at a blistering pace and we've only begun to scratch the surface of the security, privacy and safety issues we'll encounter in these alternate domains. before you dismiss them as niche services for the socially inept, consider that the most vibrant community of users are not teens but young adults. and that the most popular activities are not slaying dragons, but social interaction such as chatting, solving puzzles, and teaching. moreover, consider that there are *real* exchange rates and economics in these worlds. already the black market has seized upon these virtual worlds and stricken them with hyper-inflation as "gold farms" in China flood them with currency that is available for real-world dollars in online auctions.

so what happens when our communications and interactions in these virtual worlds and interrupted by the same attacks we've seen in other corners of cyberspace? the ante is considerably greater given the richness of the communication possible, amount of virtual possessions we'd accumulate, the serious businesses that will emerge. bullying, harassment, stalking, destruction of property, theft, simulated murder-- all of these have already happened but have yet to be well understood by the general populace b/c most of us are not using these services-- yet. the safety, security and privacy issues we're just beginning to understand for virtual worlds will match and ultimately exceed the complexity of those we experience in the real world today since they seamlessly cross international and cultural boundaries. they'll make the destructive worms of the early years of the internet look like comically simple. nonetheless, the importance of these issues depend upon the success and mainstream adoption of these virtual worlds and communities, which is one of the greatest wildcards in the near-term of our future communications.