Russia researching undersea cable locations

Ars Technica has an interesting article discussing US Intelligence reports that Russian subs are committing “aggressive” activity near underwater cables. While good intelligence is always looking at all information and possible scenarios, I have to say I think this one is a bit of a red herring.

First, looking the map included in the story, they would have to cut 20+ cables to have an effect on the global internet. This would mean a ton of missions all being conducted at once, or they would have to plant some sort of charge all over the place to conduct the operations at the same time. All this without being found out. On top of that, I don’t believe that Russia has enough submarines to conduct a mission of that scale.

Second, what would they expect to achieve by this? They won’t bring down the global network and at worst, they will slow things down. Plus, they have nothing to gain by crippling the global economy. One would assume that they would mean to make themselves the new global superstore and sell their resources. If all countries can’t send payments etc. how do they expect to be the worlds new global superstore.

It does begat the question though, that if we are so reliant on these networks and have no good backup, we really do need to do something about this.

Lastly, we have been doing this as well. So is this a new plan or just a response to our own “research” activity. If we do something, Russia will do it as well. Whether they are doing it for some actual research or at the very least to let us know they are watching.

I really think of all the threats we have in the current climate today, this one is so low on the priority list why even worry about it.


Tivo Bolt First Look

I finally got tired of using the local cable companies clunky DVR box. A Scientific Atlanta/Cisco box with the bone stock GUI and firmware. It was miserable to use and made me not want to watch TV. After also realizing I was paying $16 a month for this “privilege” I decided to lower my monthly cost and buy a Tivo Bolt.

Tivo Bolt
The Tivo Bolt in its natural habitat.

I went with the 500 GB model as I don’t record a whole lot of TV. Plus if I do somehow need more storage, I can buy an external drive to upgrade it. I also bought a Tivo Mini extender for my bedroom so I can enjoy all of my cable and recorded shows from my bed if I like.

The Good

  • The UI is incredible. Coming from the stock cable box UI which looked like it was drawn in paint, the Tivo UI feels like it is in this century
  • So far i’m intrigued by the idea that it will record shows it thinks I will like.
  • It is nice that it has apps for Netflix, Amazon, etc.
  • I like that I can get essentially all of the functionality in another room with the Mini box. Much cheaper than the cable companies solution.

The Bad

  • You need to have wired ethernet run to the box if you want to us MoCa for the Tivo Mini. I was unaware of this at the time and ended up running Powerline Ethernet throughout my place (I rent and cannot run Ethernet through the house).


  • I’ve heard some people think the new design is ugly. I actually kind of like it, it looks different when sitting in the dark wood cavity of my entertainment center.

I’m actually working on a longer more thorough review to be posted soon.

Yahoo A shell of what it once was…

Wired has a great article taking a look at Yahoo currently and what it really means to the Internet now. A company that was once the an Internet darling is now on the verge of full on irrelevancy.

It isn’t shocking though. Throughout the years it has been a leadership carousel. With the board of directors worried about tomorrows share price instead of the future of the company, they constantly forced change in plans and CEO’s. It is a wonder that nothing ever stuck as it never had the time to mature and get its feet under it before there was a regime change.

While I don’t believe Marissa Mayer was the right person to turn the company around, you also cannot blame her for the lack of success. The company she inherited was bloated, lacked cohesive direction/vision, and was only making money due to its stake in Alibaba. There would be no amount of new ideas and culture change she could affect to stem the tide of the sinking ship.

And while we are on the subject, Microsoft buying them would have just accelerated the nail in the coffin. Look at the Nokia acquisition. Billions of dollars spent only for them to gut the sale and essentially give up on the phone market. They have also gutted a good portion of Bing selling assets to a company like Uber. I’m sure Yahoo would have been quickly parted out and dismantled.

Link: Once Upon a Time, Yahoo was the Most Important Internet Company

The iPad Pro Reviews are in…

The iPad Pro reviews are out and while they are not a glowing revolutionary product reviews, they do signal some evolutionary steps toward a lighter machine for productivity. Overall though, the consensus is that the machine still is not a universal desktop replacement, but may start to be one for some people.

While I wouldn’t be someone that could replace my desktop/laptop with it, it could definitely replace my current iPad Air and old MacBook Air as I use those both mainly for light creation and work. Though I do wonder if a decent keyboard and an iPad Air 2 may just as well do the trick. The idea of split screen iOS apps on a larger screen though is very intriguing. I still think though, that some iOS limitations will still hold back an otherwise excellent hardware platform.

I do want to play with one with all the accessories as I feel both the Smart Keyboard and the Pencil are really what put the iPad Pro over the top of a cheaper MacBook or an iPad Air 2.

First up is John Gruber’s review at Daring Fireball:

The entire x86 computer architecture is living on borrowed time. It’s a dead platform walking. The future belongs to ARM, and Apple’s A-series SoC’s are leading the way.

While I don’t think this is totally the case for all, it is for sure a tolling bell for a lot of people.

Ars Technica’s review does bring up some an interesting point:

It’s best to think of the iPad Pro as a starting point, especially for iOS 9. These multitasking features are still brand-new, and there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick in future iOS 9 revisions and into iOS 10. My biggest gripes with the iPad Pro are with the software rather than the hardware, and that means that most of them can be fixed given enough time and enough feature requests.

I totally agree with this, again it is a software problem not a hardware problem. The issue becomes how to solve for this without compromising the security and ease of use of iOS.

MacStories review sums it up as such:

The iPad Pro is the iPad I didn’t know I was waiting for.

I can understand this from Federico as he has already bent his workflows to work with iOS limitations. Having more screen, memory, and processor for someone who is already comfortable working in the ecosystem would make them giddy.

All in all I’m curious to try one in hand, as the size in hand when not doing productivity work on a desk may be too big. Much of my current iPad use in bed, reading, or playing games. Is it too big and unwieldy for those uses? I really would like to have a good integrated pencil in a smaller form factor if the size proves too large.