Tag Archives | Software

Selling Software That Kills

Syrian Uprising MapWrites Jon Evans on TechCrunch:

The government of Syria uses made-in-California technology from BlueCoat Systems to censor the Internet and spy on its pro-democracy activists (who are regularly arrested and tortured, not to mention slaughtered wholesale.) Amesys of France and FinFisher of the UK aided brutal dictators in Egypt and Libya. Sweden’s Teliasonera allegedly took up the same cudgel in Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. McAfee and Nokia Siemens have done the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, Bain Capital recently bought a Chinese video-surveillance company reportedly “used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents,” and Cisco “has marketed its routers to China specifically as a tool of repression.” You can’t help but be impressed by how globalized the oppression-technology industry has become.

So what privacy/surveillance story caused an eruption of outrage this week? Yes, you guessed it: SceneTap, a startup that uses facial-recognition software to (anonymously) track demographics at bars and clubs in major American cities in real time.

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Switzerland’s Anti-PowerPoint Party

12. cash collateralThe best up-and-coming political force may be Switzerland’s Anti-PowerPoint Party. The intrepid Party is fighting the use of PowerPoint presentations in business, government, and education, arguing that use of PowerPoint costs their nation approximately 2.5 billion $USD yearly. (There is no methodology behind this number.)

Ultimately, the group is working to obtain 100,000 voter signatures, which would enable it to call for a national referendum to ban PowerPoint and other presentation software throughout Switzerland. Their website has a library of examples of terrible presentation slides:

The APPP sees itself as the advocate of approximately 250 Million people worldwide, who, every month, are obliged to be present during boring presentations in companies, universities, or at other institutions, and who had up to now no representation in politics.

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Company Hires Adults With Autism to Test Software

CubeVia the Associated Press:

The software testers at Aspiritech are a collection of characters. Katie Levin talks nonstop. Brian Tozzo hates driving. Jamie Specht is bothered by bright lights, vacuum cleaners and the feel of carpeting against her skin. Rider Hallenstein draws cartoons of himself as a DeLorean sports car. Rick Alexander finds it unnerving to sit near other people.This is the unusual workforce of a U.S. startup that specializes in finding software bugs by harnessing the talents of young adults with autism.

Traits that make great software testers — intense focus, comfort with repetition, memory for detail — also happen to be characteristics of autism. People with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, have normal to high intelligence and often are highly skilled with computers.

Aspiritech, a nonprofit in Highland Park, Ill., nurtures these skills while forgiving the quirks that can make adults with autism unemployable: social awkwardness, poor eye contact, being easily overwhelmed.

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Why Software Is Eating The World

Mark Andreessen (you know, the Netscape nerd turned venture capitalist) explains for the Wall Street Journal:
This week, Hewlett-Packard (where I am on the board) announced that it is exploring jettisoning its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software, where it sees better potential for growth. Meanwhile, Google plans to buy up the cellphone handset maker Motorola Mobility. Both moves surprised the tech world. But both moves are also in line with a trend I've observed, one that makes me optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies, despite the recent turmoil in the stock market. In short, software is eating the world...
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