Tag Archives: Labor Day

Latest Leaks Shoot Holes in the Cloud

Over the Labor Day weekend a hacker released dozens of photos taken from various celebrity’s personnel databases exposing a vulnerability in the move to cloud based data storage.

Victims of the hacking ranged from singers to models to actresses to athletes.

Within hours of the release the internet was abuzz with news of the latest celebrity hacking with some people denying that the photos were them and others admitting that the photos were of them and threatening legal action for their release.

Of course once anything is let out of the internet bag and released for all to see it never really goes away and can be found in some dark corner somewhere meaning that the violation of privacy never really goes away.

Among the victims of the release was Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander who is now facing questions about photos with his girlfriend, Kate Upton, instead of being completely focused on the race to the postseason.

To his credit Verlander stated that he does not let things like this distract him when he is pitching but it is hard to believe that someone could totally tune out such a violation of privacy.

And make no mistake it is a complete violation of each of the hacked celebrity’s privacy that the information and photos that they considered private was released for the world to see.

While celebrities are public figures they still have just as much of a right as the rest of us to keep aspects of their lives private and to choose what to share with the public.

It used to be that if an individual or a a company had data  to protect they would lock them away in a safe or vault.  Photo R. Anderson

It used to be that if an individual or a a company had data to protect they would lock it away in a safe or vault.
Photo R. Anderson

This is certainly not the first instance of celebrities having their photos released and it will certainly not be the last in this digital age in which we find ourselves.

And while such celebrity hackings make the headlines each day, there are likely thousands of lower level hackings that occur whether through individuals cracking a cloud account, or data breaches of consumer credit card data showing how fragile each of our identities really are.

Earlier this week it was revealed that shoppers of a certain depot for the home may have had their information leaked. This follows credit card breaches at a variety of retailers this year from Target to Albertson’s and many in between.

This is not to say that computer networks are not safe, or that hacking is anything new, but a move to computerized systems makes it much easier for someone to succeed.

Consider if you will the world as it was before the internet and the cloud. If a company had data to protect they would lock it away in a safe or vault. And if they wanted to ensure that the information was secure in the event that the vault was swallowed up by a giant sink hole or other unforeseen disaster, they would store a copy in a second vault for redundancy.

The vaults that hold the recipes for Coca Cola and Colonel Sander’s 11 secret herbs and spices for fired chicken are still safe to the best of my knowledge in their vaults.

I am not pointing this out to make you thirsty for a soda and some chicken but merely to observe that in this store everything in the cloud world sometimes low tech solutions are the best.

In many science fiction movies such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created. Photo R. Anderson

In many science fiction movies such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created.
Photo R. Anderson

While someone might have needed to crack a safe to steal sensitive information in the past, with the information superhighway one need only an internet connection and some time to crack even the most sophisticated computer systems.

While I am not advocating that we all trade in our cars for a horse and buggy and shun all technology, there is something to be said for not putting one’s trust in electronic systems that can fail.

In many science fiction movies, such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises, the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created.

I do not foresee a future where Neo and John Connor need to save the human race from robots, but I do see a future where perhaps someone needs to save society from their faith in the cloud.

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think wow a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is for storing my important information. Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind and sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit. Photo R. Anderson

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think wow a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is for storing my important information. Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind and sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit.
Photo R. Anderson

Perhaps it should not be a shock that, despite the best efforts of many smart computer programmers and security firms, the cloud seems to be porous and an easy target for hackers.

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think “wow, a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is.”

Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind that sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit and sometimes got dark and made me wet on the way to my car.

Does that really sound like the most secure place to put your most private data and vacation photos?

Perhaps a certain commercial for an auto insurance company had it right and the wall where we post our photos should be made of stucco and not binary code.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go stare at some fluffy clouds and see what shapes they make.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Labor Day Marks End of the Line for Bo Porter Era in Houston

Today, September 1 is Labor Day.

While originally established in the 19th Century as a way to honor workers, through the years the first Monday of September celebration has turned into a time of barbecues, beach getaways and appliance sales.

In fact Labor Day weekend is often called the last weekend of the summer even though fall does not officially arrive until September 22.

For fans of the Houston Astros, Labor Day will forever be known as the day that the manager and bench coach were asked to turn in their uniforms and leave the building.

Earlier today the Astros announced that Manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley had been relieved of their duties. Tom Lawless will serve as interim manager through the remainder of the 2014 season.

Last Labor Day Bo Porter was managing the Houston Astros in a day game against the Minnesota Twins. Fast forward a year and Porter was fired by the Astros during an off day. Photo R. Anderson

Last Labor Day Bo Porter was managing the Houston Astros in a day game against the Minnesota Twins. Fast forward a year and Porter was fired by the Astros during an off day.
Photo R. Anderson

While no one ever likes to be fired part of me thinks that Porter and Trembley are relieved to be let go from the tire fire of a team that is the Astros. Plus, by being let go now Porter and Trembley have more time to line up jobs for next season.

Neither Porter nor Trembley should be held to blame for the performance of the Astros under their tenure. One can only manage with what they are given and few can argue that the front office has been very stingy in what they are giving the field staff to work with.

The company line for the Astros continues to be, “just wait we are getting better every day and are bolstering the farm system for continued success.”

While there has been slight improvement in the on field performance of the team this season there also has been a marked increase in stories about player discontent and mismanagement by the front office.

There was also the whole situation regarding failing to sign the first pick in this year’s draft and the release of confidential front office communications regarding trade negotiations.

Also, who can forget the absolute disaster centering on the team’s broadcast rights that has prevented much of the Houston area from being able to watch the games on television?

Of course with such spotty on field performance the last couple of years not being able to watch on television might be a blessing in disguise for those fans who do not get the games.

By many accounts the Astros front office did not give Bo Porter  much to work with during his nearly two seasons at the helm. The team will now look for a manager to share in the slow rebuilding process. Photo R. Anderson

By many accounts the Astros front office did not give Bo Porter much to work with during his nearly two seasons at the helm. The team will now look for a manager to share in the slow rebuilding process.
Photo R. Anderson

Granted no team is perfect but with each story that comes out it seems more and more like the Astros front office does not seem to have much of a clue on how to run a Major League Baseball team.

As Fox Mulder would say, “I want to believe” that things will get better in the not too distant future and that the Astros will once again be a playoff contender but with each day I fell more like they will be a Major League pretender.

Earlier this season it was announced that the Astros were going to raise ticket prices to help cover expenses. Asking fans to pay more to see a less competitive team does not seem like a sound business strategy.

Of course through their dynamic pricing model the Astros charge even more when the marquee franchises like the Yankees and Red Sox are in town to help cover the losses on the other games.

I do understand that there is a business side to baseball but continuing to fleece the fans will end up biting them in the end.

With the arrival of football season it is likely that even fewer people will pay attention to the Astros as they limp to the finish line of the 2014 season. While it is likely that they can avoid their fourth consecutive 100 loss season in the grand scheme of things it might be too little too late.

More and more I hear people say that Houston is a football town and not a baseball town.

While I do not yet believe that baseball will fail in Houston in the same way that Arena League Football, minor league hockey and Indy Car did, it is certainly a possibility under the current management team based on the recent track record of activities.

Thankfully there are the Sugar Land Skeeters to watch for a reasonably priced baseball fix. With the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball planning additional teams in the Houston area over the next few years there very well could come a time where fans grow tired of paying for the Astros antics.

While this is an entirely unlikely scenario the people of Houston could watch the Astros leave the fourth largest city in America and find themselves with two large empty sports complexes.

The fact that Houston is the fourth largest city in America is often brought up when people question how the Astros could be so bad. And while it is best saved for another column on another day, I believe that a city’s size does not guarantee success in sports. One need only look at the Los Angeles area and their inability to get a NFL team after 20 years as proof of that. Sometimes sports work better in a smaller market where there are less options for the fans to spend their money on.

Prior to coming to Houston Bo Porter was the third base coach for the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are having a much better year than the Astros and could reach their first World Series. Photo R. Anderson

Prior to coming to Houston Bo Porter was the third base coach for the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are having a much better year than the Astros and could reach their first World Series.
Photo R. Anderson

As for the next antics for the Astros front office they will in the words of general manager Jeff Luhnow seek “a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization.” If one was to read between the lines of that statement they could surmise the Astros are seeking a yes man manager who does whatever the front office asks of them and does not have an opinion of their own. Rarely does that sort of micro managing create a good working environment.

As for Porter and Trembley’s former teams, the Nationals and Orioles respectively, things could not be looking better as each team holds a commanding lead in their respective divisions and seems poised for deep postseason runs.

A beltway series between the Nationals and the Orioles would be a very nice thing and the way the teams are playing it very well could be a reality. Of course there are still several teams that could prevent that from occurring but one thing is clear it should be a very fun postseason with the inclusion of some teams that have not been there in a while.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Skeeters tickets to buy and a beltway World Series to prepare for.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson