Wannabe Tour Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area

family, personal, sports, technology

I end up spending a lot of time (and having a lot of fun) playing tourist guide when friends and family come to visit the San Francisco Bay Area…  I usually start by sending an email full of options based on the particular person’s interest.   Here’s a compilation from lists I’ve sent out:

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Worry about PIPA, not SOPA

Uncategorized

Until recently, I thought Pipa was one of the participants of a recent royal wedding that I didn’t care much about. But as sinister as that Pipa might be, the more sinister PIPA is the Protect IP Act being considered by congress.

Apparently, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which made it easy for copyright holders to ban websites and other services at the domain name level, is dead in the water due to overwhelming opposition by the technical community due to censorship concerns. I think those concerns were quite valid.

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Illusion of Security

technology

News that SSL encryption can be broken in 10 minutes seems quite big to me.

The fun fact everyone would talk about is that 128 bit SSL encryption would take longer than the age of the universe to crack.  10 minutes seems like quite an improvement.   The article is a little vague (or perhaps some of the TLS talk is above my head), but as far as I can tell, an infected browser could compromise any secure browser session to an HTTPS secured site that went longer than 10 minutes on a network that had an internet sniffer.  This would include all online banking websites, online email websites, etc.

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Profiting from a burst in the gold bubble

finance

If you are like me and think that gold prices are in a bubble akin to the real estate bubble of yesteryear, there is a way you can profit from the bursting of the gold bubble.

There is an ETF security that trades just like a stock called Proshares Ultrashort Gold (NYSE: GLL), which attempts to provide an investment return of 200% of the inverse of the movement of gold prices. If gold prices go down 10%, the Proshares Ultrashort Gold should go up about 20%.

Trying to catch a bubble at its top is a very risky proposition. I am reminded of a friend of mine that took a large short position of home builder stocks in 2004 and was forced out of his investment due to massive losses. His prediction proved true in 2008, but that was too late.

Using an ETF with a long term horizon is already safer than taking a short position. There is no risk of a margin call for starters. It’s also a good idea to dollar cost average. I’m still thinking about the best approach, but I’m thinking of splitting my planned investment in five and investing 20% every three months. I think such an approach starting now in Proshares Ultrashort Gold has a high chance of success.

One problem with such ETF’s however is that the financial instruments that are used to simulate the desired return of the underlying security and the fees erode the target return. Therefore, a 10% increase in gold prices will cause the ETF to drop slightly more than 20%. Similarly, a 10% decrease in gold prices will cause the ETF to increase slightly less than 20%.

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Would You Build a Bridge This Way?

technology

This week, software bugs took the Netflix website down for a weekend and significantly delayed United Airlines flights all over the country.  Massive software failures like these are becoming more commonplace.  The reason is that there’s not much engineering going on anymore in the Software Engineering field.

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Promise of 3D Printing

technology

The full promise of 3D printers didn’t really hit me until recently. These are printers that build 3D objects from resin like materials. The specifications for the objects come from digital representations.

The technology is in its infancy and there are still advancements to make. The printers need to get cheaper and faster. The strength of the objects produced need to get stronger. These are significant challenges, but I think the solutions are within reach.

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Network Exhile

Uncategorized

Dan Rather is doing some pretty good work over at HDNet. I saw features on Detroit Public Schools as well as the startup Hashable… good journalism. I hope some people are watching.

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Impact of Bin Laden Death

politics

I thought I’d record my immediate reaction to learning that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Over the next few days, lots of analysts will dissect things and will probably impact my views. It will be fun to look back years later to review my initial thoughts.

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25 Bahman in Iran

politics

Tunisia was first, and Egypt was second. Will Algeria and Iran be next? Iran is particularly important given its volatile relationship with Israel and The West.  The stage is set with the 25 Bahman protests scheduled for two days from now all over Iran.

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The Fix was In

mobile, technology

In hindsight, it was easy to guess that Stephen Elop would choose to partner with the Windows Phone platform over Android. He is from Microsoft after all.

Since he’s only been with Nokia for four months, I’m suspecting he discussed the move to dump Symbian in favor for Windows Phone with the board of directors before being hired.

The old guard at Nokia is none too pleased. I saw footage of a massive worker walk-out in Finland in protest the move to dump Symbian.

This is a big risk and only time will tell if it will work out.

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